James MacSmith, AAP
Canterbury duo Dale Finucane and Josh Jackson could emerge as surprise State of Origin selections for NSW if they can continue their impressive start to the season, says former Blues assistant coach Trent Barrett.
Finucane and Jackson have been key figures in Canterbury's good start to the year and were rewarded with selection in Barrett's Country side to meet City at Dubbo's Apex Oval on Sunday.
Barrett watched on from close range as Andrew Fifita and Boyd Cordner graduated through the representative ranks last year, starting with berths in the annual City-Country clash before moving on to play for NSW and then Australia.
And the former Illawarra Steelers, St George Illawarra and Cronulla playmaker says Finucane and Jackson could be two Origin bolters this year as the Blues seek to end eight years of interstate dominance by Queensland.
"Just watching him train, a guy like Dale Finucane, I think he is made for these sort of games," Barrett told AAP.
"I have been really impressed with him.
"Josh Jackson is another one. I think he is ready to take that next step.
"They are two in our team with plenty to play for."
NSW coach Laurie Daley will announce his side for Origin I on May 20, ahead of the series opener in Brisbane on May 28, which means Finucane and Jackson have the City-Country fixture and two more rounds of NRL to impress the selectors.
"Their toughness stands out. Everyone knows that, but they are very well educated in terms of their footy," Barrett said.
"I only have to watch them at training and in their warm-up and know they are very professional.
"They tick all the boxes in their preparation and I guess that is why Canterbury are so successful as a club.
"It is a credit to them.
"I enjoy coaching blokes like those two - they have been very helpful for me."