Pick Tedesco for Origin, says Mini
Former star Blues fullback Anthony Minichiello has weighed into the debate of who should replace Jarryd Hayne as NSW fullback, declaring Wests Tigers custodian James Tedesco is ready.
Asked who he'd lean to out of Josh Dugan, Matt Moylan, Brett Stewart and James Tedesco, Minichiello opted for his former Italy World Cup teammate.
"The form fullback in my opinion is Tedesco," Minichiello said on Wednesday.
"Whether Loz [Blues coach Laurie Daley] goes for someone new or not I'm not sure. I'm hearing Dugan, his injury is not as bad as first thought.
"If he's fit, he's played there before and been in that arena and you've obviously got Brett Stewart who's got the experience there who can be a key member in that team for sure and add a bit of spark.
"It's a tough call but I think Loz is going to wait up to the last minute and see how injuries play a part."
Minichiello said Tedesco had the flair and toughness required of an Origin fullback.
"You need to have that flair but you need to have the toughness because when they roll down that kick chase it's on, you need to be running the ball strong at times," he said.
"I think he would handle it, whether or not he gets picked this year or in years to come I definitely think he's an Origin player in the future."
Minichiello reflected on his time in the Italy squad with the Tigers youngster, who he said has been "electric" so far in 2015.
"He played centre, and he was outstanding for us. Great kid. I think he could handle it, no doubt. I suppose it's up to the selectors whether they want to blood a new guy in a key position when it's an important series to go back to back."
With injury clouds over several backline candidates, Minichiello was not opposed to selecting frontrunner Josh Dugan in the centres, where he did a job for Daley last year in Origin, or playing Tedesco in the three-quarter line – but said both Morris twins, Brett and Josh, deserved to be looked at when injury permitted.
"Duges played centres last year and did a great job too so there's that option as well," he said.
"It's a bit of a puzzle at the moment, we've still got a couple of weeks to go and Loz will be looking at all of them I suppose."
There is an argument that an Origin fullback these days needs to have a larger frame and Minichiello said while Jarryd Hayne's ability to almost never get dominated in a tackle was an asset, Origin was more about toughness and bouncing up from the hits than pure size.
"It's not so much the size of the body, it's how you run the ball, how you get up from the hits and back up and keep going. It's an 80-minute game, it's non-stop, you need to be fit and aggressive and physical," he said.
Daley himself was a little more cryptic when quizzed on Tedesco's Origin credentials following his efforts on the wing for City Origin over the representative weekend: "I was really impressed with Tedesco on the other day, so who knows?"
Hopefully you do, Laurie, because if not the rest of us are no chance!