Daley upbeat despite Blues injury cloud
Round 1 injuries to two of Laurie Daley's victorious 2014 NSW Origin team are no cause for concern, with any number of other candidates putting their hands up.
Five-eighth Josh Reynolds, who played all three games in the 2-1 series win last year alongside Bulldogs teammate Trent Hodkinson, suffered a fractured arm in Canterbury's Round 1 loss to Penrith while Dragons fullback Josh Dugan – earmarked as a replacement for NFL-bound Jarryd Hayne at fullback – was taken off with an ankle injury in his side's loss to Melbourne on Monday night.
While it has since emerged Dugan's injury is less serious than originally feared, Daley addressed media on Tuesday to run the rule over some of the candidates for the highly-anticipated 2015 series.
Daley named five possible replacements at fullback, and said if Reynolds is injured he would not necessarily stick to the club-combinations policy that cost James Maloney a spot in 2014 when Mitchell Pearce was ruled out, meaning any one of the in-form Roosters or Rabbitohs halves could come into contention either singularly or as a pairing.
"I'm not up to date where Josh [Dugan] is at, there were initial fears it's not great... but he was a big part of the team last year and I'm sure he would have been looking forward to being part of it again so fingers crossed he's ok," said Daley, who is known to be a big fan of experience over rookies in the Origin arena.
Daley said the fractured arm suffered by Reynolds was "not great news" for the Bulldogs but in terms of Origin he "may have some time up his sleeve".
"It's 10 weeks today until the first team is announced [so the other plays have] nine games between now and when the first team is selected," Daley said.
"To miss a large chunk of the season is not great, in particular when you're trying to push for an Origin position."
Daley said no options are off the table, naming Panthers fullback Matt Moylan, Raiders fullback Jack Wighton, Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco and 2014 Blues outside backs Will Hopoate and Brett Morris – who played fullback for the Eels and Bulldogs respectively in Round 1 – as possible candidates for the sky blue No.1 jersey.
In terms of his halves combination, Daley said he wasn't committed to stick to club combinations – meaning even if Reynolds is ruled out that doesn't necessarily rule Hodkinson out as well.
"I think with inexperienced halves when they come into an Origin campaign, I like to go with those combinations. Some of the guys that have been there now can adapt if they have to play with another partner," Daley said.
"It's just a wait-and-see, anything can happen in the next eight or nine weeks."
Daley seemed to suggest that if Blues stalwart and Titans back-rower Greg Bird were to be found guilty of the drugs charges he is currently facing, that would rule him out of the series.
"We know what our values are and what the behaviours are that go with playing for NSW and you're non-negotiable on that. If people have done the wrong thing they know they won't be a part of the NSW team," he said.