Daley cautious with regards to Blues overhaul
Blues legends Brad Fittler and Phil Gould both hinted within the space of 24 hours that a dramatic overhaul was needed for the New South Wales team before Origin I but coach Laurie Daley says he will simply pick the best players available.
A keen spectator at Scully Park in Tamworth for yesterday's AAMI Country-City clash, Daley saw two relatively young sides score 74 points between them in 80 minutes, hardly the best indicator for who is up to the rigours of Origin football.
Fittler and Gould both made mention of Queensland's decade of dominance and their record 52-6 win in Game Three last year in calling for significant change and the likes of Bryce Cartwright, Jack de Belin, Josh Mansour and Jack Bird to be blooded into the Blues team sooner rather than later.
De Belin, Tariq Sims, Jack Wighton, Tyson Frizell and Nathan Peats were in action on Sunday having participated in Daley's Emerging Blues squad earlier in the year but the NSW coach told NRL.com that they will only be selected if they are the best option available.
"A lot of those guys on the field today would be still early into their careers so it was good to see," Daley said of the next generation of Blues players.
"We've done a bit of that over the last couple of years but succession planning is not the be-all and end-all.
"You've still got to be able to win Series with the team that you think is right and you've got to pick the best players.
"The best players will always get picked, regardless of what age they are but if there is someone there that deserves to be picked he'll be picked."
Although there were 50 missed tackles in the game both teams completed at better than 80 per cent, City getting through 28 of their 33 sets despite 16 offloads to just four for Country.
The last time an Origin team scored 20 points and lost was in Game Three 2012 when the Blues were pipped 21-20, making Sunday's entertaining try-fest a problematic form guide for prospective newcomers to Daley's squad.
Bryce Cartwright was a standout for City with his offloads and adventurous kicking game in a style of game perfectly suited to his skill set.
"He was good, a lot of other players were good tonight," Daley said.
"It was an open game of footy which probably suited the guys with a bit more flamboyant football in them.
"You always get a bit out of it. It was an entertaining game of footy so the skill levels were high so that was good to see."
In terms of the Country players, Jack de Belin was awarded the game ball by Craig Fitzgibbon in the sheds after the game and showed he can handle higher representative honours if given the opportunity.
"I'm a fan. He was outstanding there tonight," Fitzgibbon said.
"He got himself in and around the opposition's defence, got us some quick play-the-balls, had some nice passes and his defence is an obvious strong point of his game."