BROWNIE: Hayne at 6 for NSW could be a masterstroke
Jarryd Hayne attacks during the round 18 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Wests Tigers. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Grant Trouville
The most interesting and potentially contentious Origin selection teaser that Blues coach Ricky Stuart has thrown out so far is the possibility that Jarryd Hayne will play five-eighth.
It could be a masterstroke, like Paul Gallen moving to the front row. But it could also be a risk.
A lot people have been commenting on the likelihood of Hayne filling the 6 jersey.
The way I read it, Ricky would love to be able to select the same 1, 6, 7, and 9 combination that he used in last year’s series, but a combination of form and injuries have made that difficult.
At the same time, the Maroons have had a settled combination in those key positions for years now, and it shows on the field.
Queensland’s 1, 6, 7, 9 combination is the Kangaroos’ as well. And that ability to consistently select the same players in these decision-making roles is key to the Maroons’ ongoing success in State of Origin football.
Ricky would love to be able to do the same.
But the incumbents in those positions haven’t really put their hand up so far this season and demanded selection. Mitchell Pearce has been up and down; Ennis has been solid, but Buderus has been more consistent. And so on.
The stability that the Blues desire is not really an option right now.
But they do have strong contenders for those positions, and I think the City versus Country match could still enable a couple of players to force their way into the squad.
It might actually be a good move for the Blues to do something a bit out of the ordinary with a few of their selections. It worked with Gallen. There’s no reason why it can’t work with Hayne, too.
Another possible bolter for the squad is the Storm’s Ryan Hinchcliffe, who has developed nicely under Craig Bellamy’s tutelage. He’s the sort of player who would relish the intensity of the Origin arena.
Like the other younger players who are playing in the City-Country match, he will benefit considerably from working with the likes of Laurie Daly and Freddie Fittler during the camp.
At this point of the season, it’s really up to the players to put their hand up in that game and say to Ricky, “Pick me.”
Those who do could well see themselves become part of what promises to be another epic Origin battle this year.
Former Dragons coach and player Nathan Brown writes an exclusive weekly column for The Roar. Brown, who played 172 games for the Dragons and coached them for a further 142 games, is currently the head coach at the Huddersfield Giants in the UK Super League.