Fletch and Hindy talk NSW selections
With plenty of intrigue surrounding the make-up of Laurie Daley's NSW Blues side leading into the Holden State of Origin series opener on June 1, public opinion on who should be in the squad has been at an all-time high.
Former NSW legends Nathan Hindmarsh and Bryan Fletcher were on hand to give NRL.com an insight into who they would pick for Game One.
Speaking at the True Blues Touch Game at ANZ Stadium on Monday morning, Hindmarsh (17 games for the Blues) and Fletcher (14 games) ran through some of the most debated positional choices Daley will have to make.
Who should play fullback?
Bryan Fletcher: I'm a Dugan fan, especially at Origin level. His big body is what we need especially when he's bringing the ball back. Some people are saying they'd play him in the centres but I think he's a better fullback. I would play Josh Morris and Michael Jennings in the centres instead.
Nathan Hindmarsh: You've got Dugan who has been playing well all year and did a great job for us last year. James Tedesco is injured but has been so good in attack. I haven't got Lachlan Coote in my scenario, and that's no disrespect to him in regards to how he's been playing. I just can't go past Josh Dugan at fullback.
What about the halves?
BF: Depending on what Mitchell Pearce wants to do, I'd have Mitchell and James Maloney. If not, I would choose Trent Hodkinson and Maloney. I think there's a stat that Hodkinson is the most successful halfback we've had in the last eight years with a 50 per cent winning record.
NH: I just think the way 'Pearcey' played in his first game back showed what he can do, but I still think he has a bit to prove. But that's up to him. If he wants to work on getting himself right then that's the main thing. I think it's our kicking game that we've got to worry about. Obviously with no Jarryd Hayne we need someone with a big boot to get us out of trouble because we have been getting in a bit of trouble over the years. Whoever Laurie picks will do the job for us.
Who wears the No.9 jersey for NSW?
BF: I'd pick Michael Ennis. I don't think Robbie Farah has done enough this year and Michael and the Sharks have been great this year. His combination with Maloney helps as well.
NH: Robbie Farah and Michael Ennis is a toss of the coin. I think Mick is playing some really good football for his side at the moment, but you know Robbie will do the job if he gets picked.
Will Bryce Cartwright get his chance in 2016?
BF: I'd go with Bryce Cartwright. He's got a big body and his offloading skills are great. Take nothing away from Jack Bird. He's very close. I think he'll play a part in this series but I just don't think he'll get a shot in the first game.
NH: 'Carty's' name has been tossed up a lot but I think he could do with another year of good football. I'm not saying that he doesn't deserve a spot based on his form, but I'd wait another year just for his defence.
Any bolters for Game One?
BF: I reckon Lachlan Coote might sneak in there somewhere. I don't know where but I just think he's someone Laurie might want to use at five-eighth if they pick a goal-kicking halfback. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets in, but you need someone who has played in a big game. I know Laurie has been quoted as saying the Canberra boys (Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer) won't be considered because they haven't played any big games. Going off that, we won't see too many bolters.
NH: Wade Graham has been on the selection fringes for a number of years and wouldn't look out of place for the Blues. He's not a bolter, but I think Beau Scott has been playing the best football I've seen him play in a number of years. He looks fresh and he just does Origin plays every week for his club. Things like chasing down Tom Trbojevic when the Eels played Manly. His defence has been outstanding and the Blues need a player like that. When you've been on your line defending set after set he's the sort of player that will get you out of that trouble.
Any advice for the Blues on how to stop Queensland?
BF: The thing is - and we say it every year – but it's our defence. There's no Will Chambers and there's no Billy Slater so it's a little bit of a help. But you look through that side and they haven't got many players who you can target in defence. It will come to our defence and not playing those stock standard percentage plays in attack. We've got to play a few high-risk plays and hope they come off. When it comes to post-try celebrations, don't do the grenade because obviously that inspired Queensland to win eight in a row. Keep it for the dressing rooms.
NH: It doesn't matter who Laurie picks because whatever he decides we should support his decision.
How would you rate each other's form at touch footy?
BF: He was consistent… Consistently bad. I'd say probably a three. He tried hard, which was good to see. But it wasn't good enough.
NH: 0.5 out of 10. He was lazy out there today; so nothing has really changed from his rugby league career. He didn't get off the wing. It reminded me of his days at Souths; high expectation and not delivering.