Injuries to NSW stars Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray as well as Ryan Papenhuyzen have thrown the Blues’ preparations into chaos, but who are the contenders to fill key voids in the squad?
Speaking on NRL 360, Braith Anasta, Paul Kent, Dave Riccio and Paul Crawley discussed potential replacements for centre, second row and utility roles in light of injuries to the starting stars and Papenhuyzen, who have already done so. part of the team.
“There are Blues injury headaches with Cameron Murray in doubt, Latrell Mitchell and Ryan Papenhuyzen out for the opener,” Anasta said on NRL 360.
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“Let’s take a look at the contenders.
SECOND LINE CONTAINERS
Players: Angus Crichton, Keaon Koloamatangi, Liam Martin, Tariq Sims
Crawley thinks the Blues are spoiled for choice in the second line department, although Murray is potentially a massive takedown.
“I think they’re good contenders,” Crawley said.
“If you miss Cameron Murray he’s a great out, but Liam Martin is a fantastic player. Tariq Sims was fantastic on the show last year. Crichton has been there before and young Koloamatangi is a gun too. They have a lot good options.
Riccio thinks he’d go for a mix of starters and the Panthers combinations that helped them win a title and last year’s Origin Series.
“It was Sims and Murray who played the last game for the Blues,” Riccio said.
“I see Liam Martin as the obvious solution because he has the combinations with the Penrith players. I would go to Sims and Martin.
Anasta thinks Sims was a great servant for NSW last year and wondered if the Blues would stick with it given their success in recent years.
“The Sims did a great job last year,” Anasta said.
“I know he’s had indifferent form this year, but do you pick and stick or not?”
Kent pointed out the Blues don’t have a great record for getting the pick and stick decision at the original moment.
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“That’s what stresses NSW,” Kent said.
“Do we pick and stick? They have done this in the past and it has backfired year after year.
“Other times when they changed it backfired again. They don’t have a very good hitting record there.
Riccio pointed out that the Blues don’t have the luxury of picking starting players who are in in-form squads like they have under Brad Fittler in the past.
“In previous seasons, the players they chose were from successful clubs,” Riccio said.
“Daniel Saifiti is in trouble. I feel like they will turn to loyalty and go with a struggling player in Daniel Saifiti.
“Tariq Sims at the Saints has been inconsistent. Jake Trbojevic and Manly aren’t playing their best football. Loyalty will therefore play a role.
“I think Angus Crichton finds a place on the bench because they like the fact that he can play in the middle and on the edge. So Martin and Sims would be the edge.
Kent agreed Fittler would likely stay loyal and had no doubts that Jake Trbojevic would join his brother Tom in the squad.
“I would still choose him (Trbojevic) any day of the week,” Kent said.
“I think Freddy for the first game will be faithful. For Game 1, as best he can, he’ll closely resemble the players who won last year’s series.
Anasta pointed out that Sharks star Siosifa Talakai could be another option in the back row, given his versatility.
“You could also play second-tier Siosifa Talakai,” Anasta said.
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Players: Matt Burton, Stephen Crichton, Campbell Graham, Kotoni Staggs, Siosifa Talakai.
Like the back row, Crawley feels the Blues are flush with center options, but has backed current Bulldogs five-eighth Matt Burton to replace Latrell Mitchell.
“Take your pick, but I’d go Matt Burton,” Crawley said.
“He’s been good for the Bulldogs and he was the Dally M Center of the Year last year.”
Riccio believes picking Stephen Crichton would give the Blues the luxury of a side of the pitch made up entirely of Panthers.
“I would go Crichton,” Riccio said.
“I’m a Crichton man. Again I would go with the Penrith suit.
“I think they could almost stack this whole team with Jarome Luai, Liam Martin, Stephen Crichton and Brian To’o.
“You enter an Origin game with a short preparation. The chemistry is high. You have fluidity and you hardly have to look twice from that side of the pitch.
Kent thinks Crichton is the favorite, but conceded Broncos star Kotoni Staggs is an up-and-coming Origin player.
“I thought a few weeks ago it would be Crichton if Latrell was out,” Kent said.
“I see no reason to change that. I think Crichton is an almighty talent.
“Staggs is the other. I know he plays on the other side, but you could tip Tom Trbojevic. He is so impressive.
Anasta agreed the Panthers center would get the nod, but thinks Staggs wrote Origin all over him.
“I think Crichton,” Anasta said.
“They have a luxury of riches there. You can choose any of them.
“But Staggs looks like an Origin player any day of the week. I would like to see him play. »
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Players: Nicho Hynes, Jack Wighton
Riccio believes Raiders star Jack Wighton has the edge over Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes given his versatility and kicking game.
“I think they’re sticking with Wighton, really,” Riccio said.
“I think he can fill more positions than Nicho Hynes can. We know Hynes’ versatility, but pick a number and Jack can play the position.
“He also has a booming kick. In Origin, if you get in trouble, he can just get you out of there.
Kent believes the Blues will stick with it, but conceded Hynes offers more variety in his kicking game.
“I think Hynes’ kicking game is a little smarter,” Kent said.
“He has a little more subtlety and variety in his kick.
“But I still think they will go with Wighton. I think it will be a matter of loyalty.
Anasta backed Wighton to get the nod given his history with Team NSW, while conceding Hynes also has great versatility.
“They want someone who covers the outside halves and backs, which Wighton and Hynes do,” Anasta said.
“If they’re loyal and want to have that NSW pride and they won the series last year, it’s probably Sims and Wighton doing it again, which I think they would go with.
“Freddy and Brandy have been very prone to that over the past few seasons, so I think that’s what’s going to happen.”
However, Crawley would go with the in-form Hynes, given what he has produced with the Sharks this season.
“I would go Hynes for now, but fair,” Crawley said.