New South Wales Origin Contenders 2015: The Forwards
Last week we looked at the backs in contention for a spot in this year’s Blues lineup, and now we turn our attention to the big men up front. With Game One now just a month away, here are the men in the frame for a coveted blue jumper in the engine room.
Captain Paul Gallen will be in the side somewhere if fit, whether it be here or at lock, however the timeframe for his recovery from a painful hip injury remains uncertain. Aaron Woods is a near-certainty to win a spot, most likely in the starting 13., while James Tamou has hit form after a poor start to they year and should join him in the squad. The final spot is expected to go to Shark Andrew Fifita, who is an absolute match-winner on his day but remains prone to lapses in discipline. The likes of Kade Snowden and David Klemmer will come into calculations should injuries hit the front-liners.
Robbie Farah has a mortgage on the no.9 jumper, but if disaster were to strike there’d be a tough call to be made, with the edge probably going to Parramatta’s Nathan Peats. He will line up opposite Melbourne’s Ryan Hinchcliffe in the City-Country game, with former starter Michael Ennis seemingly on the outer. Hinchcliffe does not play the position regularly, however, and is a bench prospect at best. Don’t discount Canterbury’s young gun Michael Lichaa either – he’ll get his chance eventually but ideally the Blues hierarchy would like to keep him under wraps for a few years yet.
With Greg Bird named in the Kangaroos squad it appears as though his off-field dramas won’t stop him from lining up for the Blues this year. Ryan Hoffman and Beau Scott are the other incumbent starters and Hoffman should be there again after a strong start to the year and Scott should recover from his current ankle injury in time to take his place as well. There’s always the chance Gallen lines up at lock, particularly if Bird is selected at five-eighth as proposed by Andrew Johns recently. Despite plenty of contenders for a bench role, incumbents Boyd Cordner and Trent Merrin will almost certainly be there, with veterans Anthony Watmough and Luke Lewis fighting it for the final spot – Lewis’s versatility and Watmough’s indifferent form give the Shark a slight edge at this stage. Other fringe candidates for a bench spot include in-form Dragon Tyson Frizell, versatile Bulldogs forward Josh Jackson and enigmatic Titan Ryan James.
Cover Image Source: www.sportingpulse.com
Nick Fray, Orign Online