Why Blues must give McLean his Origin debut
North Queensland Cowboys prop Jordan McLean's claims for a maiden NSW jersey have received the tick of approval from the player widely regarded as the Blues' best front-rower in State of Origin history.
McLean, who is preparing to take on his former premiership-winning Melbourne Storm teammates at AAMI Park on Thursday night, starred for Australia in the successful World Cup campaign but is yet to represent the Blues.
Blues legend Glenn Lazarus said the 26-year-old should be one of the first players chosen as NSW try to stem the Maroons dominance of the past decade.
"He's been ready for a couple of years now and I've got no idea why they haven't picked him," Lazarus told NRL.com.
"This is a good example of why NSW have struggled in the last decade. They just aren't picking the right players," he said.
"Jordan has come from a wonderful club system at Melbourne that turned him into a world-class player.
"I will be very disappointed, and very surprised, if Freddy Fittler doesn't have him in the 17 somewhere, if not starting."
Lazarus said there was a lot to like about the 118kg prop who stands at 196cm.
"The thing I like about him is that he gets to his front a lot and saps a lot of energy out of defenders trying to tackle him and bring him down," Lazarus said.
"His defence is very sound. He's the perfect Origin player.
"Jordan will create opportunities for his halves with his quick play-the-balls and that's what you need in Origin. The teams aren't refereed all that consistently and you need an edge, and that edge is the quick play-the-ball to get Queensland on the back foot and McLean is the sort of guy that will provide that."
Former Blues prop Mark Carroll earned Kangaroos selection before playing Origin and he believes McLean has done enough to earn a sky-blue jersey.
"He's massive, he loves hurting people and he's purpose built for NSW," Carroll said.
McLean said after the 24-20 loss to the Brisbane Broncos that representing NSW had always been a goal.
"My main focus is to play good footy for the Cowboys and if I do it would be nice to get a reward off the back of that," he said.
"Me and my older brothers always stuck around the TV when Origin was on [as a youth]. We were strong Blues fans obviously, being from a little NSW country town."
The former Storm prop, who said there were "a couple of old mates swinging a few yarns in amongst the scrums" in the pre-season testimonial match for Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith, is aiming to match it in the middle with Melbourne powerhouse Nelson Asofa-Solomona on Thursday.
"He's certainly got the ability. He's very big and he's very quick so it will be a good battle up front," he said.
Cowboys prop Scott Bolton told NRL.com he would remember the 24-20 loss to the Broncos "for all the wrong reasons" after crashing into the goal post late on when he seemed certain to score what would have been the match-winning try.
"I was probably looking for the line more than what was in front of me," Bolton said.
"I'm sure it will be running through my mind a million times what I could have done better there, but I definitely couldn't have hit it any squarer.
"I am a bit embarrassed about the play. I could have come up with a pretty good play there for the team and made Antonio [Winterstein's] night a lot better with his 200th game, but we've got Melbourne next and the comp goes on."
Match: Broncos vs Cowboys
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Nine Network
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS