Water Cooler: Time for Blues to look to the future?

The NSW Blues team for Origin III will be announced right here on NRL.com at 8.00pm (AEST).

It’s not the fact that New South Wales selectors are leaning towards Trent Barrett to retain the five-eighth role that has Greg Alexander concerned – it’s that nobody else has put up their hand.

The former Blues playmaker is one of a number of greats contacted by NRL.com today to urge selectors to blood some fresh talent when the teams for State of Origin III are picked tonight – starting with the no.6 jersey that will be vacated by Barrett when he retires at the end of the season.

Alexander said it would be pointless picking the veteran five-eighth in the dead rubber given his impending departure but admitted finding a solution was easier said than done.

“My theory is that there is no point picking him but the problem is who do you pick?” Alexander told NRL.com.

“Do you pick Terry Campese? I don’t think so – his form has been very patchy.

“I thought if there was a game when he was going to stand up it was against the Cowboys three weeks ago who were without Johnathan Thurston – and they lost.

“That was the game for him to put his hand up.

“I mean, if you want a guy to win a game for his state then he has to win games for his club at least. Nobody is doing that.”

Alexander pointed to Campese, John Sutton and Greg Bird as the three obvious candidates but doesn’t believe any of them have demanded selection.

“I could find a spot for Bird in my squad but I’m not convinced he should be at five-eighth,” he said.

“I also mentioned on Saturday night before Souths played Melbourne that things could go John Sutton’s way if he had a big game… but no-one is saying ‘I’m ready for it’.

“That’s the big problem for the selectors – it is by far most difficult position for them to fill.”

Bulldogs great Terry Lamb said Barrett’s impending retirement left the Blues with a big gap in the halves and agreed with Alexander’s assessment that there were no standout options to take his place.

“It’s a problem,” he said. “Trent has been playing some good football but I’d probably throw Todd Carney in there.

“He has a good combination with Mitchell Pearce and he can kick goals as well.”

While Barrett looks likely to retain his spot in the NSW squad, Lamb is one of a number former Blues that believes selectors must make a statement of intent when the side for Game Three is announced tonight – one that says their eyes are firmly planted on the future.

And that means forgetting about the result at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday night.

“I’m not worried about whether we win or lose the third game,” former Blues five-eighth Brett Kenny said.

“People say ‘It would be terrible to lose the series 3-0’ but we shouldn’t be worried about that.

“I mean, we won the third game last year and it didn’t help us this year at all did it?

“I prefer the idea of looking to the future and giving some young guys a chance with a view to next year.

“What they need to do is bring in some young guys to get some experience – and then stick with them.”

Lamb said it was time selectors paid attention to form, nominating Penrith duo Michael Jennings and Michael Gordon as two players who should be brought into the NSW squad.

And he was scathing of the conservative attitude selectors adopted in the opening two games this year, clearly picking three-quarters aimed first and foremost at containing Queensland’s brilliant backline.

“Contain them? They scored 30 points last game,” Lamb fired. “There is no doubt this is a wonderful Queensland team and they’ve been together for quite a while.

“But you can’t just go out there and defend.

“Queensland is going to go out there and score points regardless so forget about defending – NSW needs to just go out there and score more.”

Alexander said he was still baffled by some of the selection decisions that had been made by the Blues’ hierarchy in 2010.

“They’ve made some horrible mistakes,” he said. “I don’t want to dwell on the past but Game One was disgraceful with Jamie Lyon at five-eighth – that was just a stupid, stupid move to take him out of the centres and then pick blokes they thought could contain Queensland.

“It’s ridiculous that Michael Jennings wasn’t there from the outset just because he wasn’t scoring 10 tries per game.

“It’s time they made some changes and started planning for the future.”