On a day when the two front-runners for the NSW State of Origin fullback spot – Brett Stewart and Josh Dugan – went head to head, incumbent Anthony Minichiello insisted his form was good enough to keep his place for the series opener on May 23.

Stewart and Dugan had strong games at Brookvale Oval on Sunday where Manly beat Canberra 18-12, with the Raiders man scoring a second-half try in a tight tussle on Sydney’s northern beaches.

But Minichiello, fresh from signing a new contract to keep him with Sydney Roosters for a 14th season, believes he’s playing better than last year when he was called up to replace the injured Dugan for games two and three.

“I would like to be there, but there are some good fullbacks running around like Stewart and Dugan,” Minichiello said after helping his side to a 24-6 win over Newcastle on Sunday at Allianz Stadium.

“I think my form this year is better than last year. I’ve worked hard in pre-season and learned combinations with Mitchell Pearce.

“I’d love to be there again, but it’s not for me to say I should.”

Blues coach Ricky Stuart said on the Nine Network on Sunday that he knew what his side would be, with the only issues he had to resolve being the hooker and utility bench spots.

Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah and Canterbury skipper Michael Ennis, who has held the No.9 jersey since game three in 2009, are battling it out for selection after Danny Buderus’ Achilles injury.

Both players led their sides to victory this weekend, with the Bulldogs hammering Parramatta 46-12 and Farah’s golden-point field-goal sealing a 15-14 win over the struggling Gold Coast.

However, Stuart’s comments on Sunday hinted that he would stick with a number of the players that went down to 2-1 series defeat to the Maroons last year.

“Incumbency is always big with me because if players have done a job for me before I know they can handle it,” he said.

“Greg Bird made the team last year purely through incumbency, because I knew what he could deliver. Because I’ve seen him play Origin football before and I’ve seen what he can do in tough situations.

“And I think with teams I’ve had in Australian teams I’ve picked guys who I knew had done the job.”

Minichiello’s comments have given him some hope, but he said he’d received no assurances from Stuart.

“I will respect whatever Ricky does,” he said.

“It was great to come back and play last year. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens when he names the team next week.”

St George Illawarra forward Matt Prior will learn his fate from the NRL match review committee on Monday.

Prior was sent from the field in the second half at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Friday night for slamming his forearm into the head of Cowboys and Queensland superstar Johnathan Thurston.

The charge is likely to be referred and, although Prior will get a penalty reduction because of the send off, he could potentially spend up to six weeks on the sidelines.

© AAP 2018

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The Crowd Says (12)

  • Roar Guru

    May 7th 2012 @ 1:51pm
    The Barry said | May 7th 2012 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

    Two weeks ago I had Hayne in the Blues No 1 jersey now my pecking order would be


    I have never seen such a highly paid athlete give less of a stuff about his own and his teams performance as Hayne does at the moment. Care factor zero.

    I think it says a lot about the bloke that he’s the star of the team and rather than trying his backside off and trying to drag his teammates with him that he’s setting the example of disinterest and apathy.

    • May 7th 2012 @ 3:49pm
      turbodewd said | May 7th 2012 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

      mate, you are dead on the money. Hayne’s defence is lazy at best, or deliberately timid. I noticed this first in the 2009 GFinal where he was MIA whenever the ball came near him, or a bomb. I recall him letting once bounce even.

      Now its no coincidence that for 3 years Hayne has mainly been at fullback and the Eels have been terrible. The bloke is good with the ball, but way up back at fullback hes terrible. I cant believe his coaches havent noticed and yanked him. Are they high? Are they still blinded by his 2009 brilliance to see his defence is awful, he is never near the action to pull off a saving play of some sort.

      Its like the exact opposite of Billy Slater. No hold ups, doesnt contest high balls….is never there for the try-saving tackle.

    • May 8th 2012 @ 4:56pm
      Mac said | May 8th 2012 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

      I think that’s a little harsh Barry, the Parra environment must be a cesspool of doom and disease at the moment and I’m sure it’s affecting everyone. Hayne was my fullback too right up until they played the Tigers but his defensive efforts in that game were disgraceful and probably cost him any chance of getting that #1 Jersey for SOO..

      • May 8th 2012 @ 11:03pm
        Jeff McGinn said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

        I concur fully with your comments Mac, I had Hayne as a ‘walk in’ for full back whilst Dugan and Stewart were on the sidelines, I then started to look at his game and think that he is carrying an injury, He looks slow to recover from tackles, unable to place himself in best position for defending and at times totally disinterested in what’s happening around him. The last two games have sent him plummeting out of my full back choices.

        In fact, until Parramatta start playing as a unit, I don’t think that any of their players should be considered to be part of a SOO team where 100% involvement is required.

        IMO the Parra environment will never improve whilst players are undermining their coaches. .. Or the Coach is giving votes of No confidence to individuals in his press interviews. The Basis of teamwork in Sport, Industry or LIFE is ALL partners pulling in the same direction.

  • May 7th 2012 @ 4:01pm
    Robert said | May 7th 2012 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

    Incumbency only counts if the side won

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  • May 8th 2012 @ 7:29am
    Brett said | May 8th 2012 @ 7:29am | ! Report

    With all th injuries this round heres how my team would suit up for battle
    1. Brett Stewart
    2. Jarryd Hayne
    3 Michael jennings or if injured Josh Morris
    4 Matt King
    5 Akuila uate
    6 Jamie Soward
    7 Todd Carney
    8 TLL
    9 Robbie Farah
    10 James Tamou
    11 Anthony Watemough
    12 Glenn Stewart
    13 Pual Gallen or if injuried Greg Bird
    14 Jamie Buhrer
    15 TREX
    16 Feleti Mateo
    17 Luke Lewis

  • May 8th 2012 @ 9:36am
    Raugeee said | May 8th 2012 @ 9:36am | ! Report

    My NSW Backilne

    B Morris
    J Morris
    J Idris

    The Morris Bros MUST play together (even if just for the fans), Idirs has to be hre because he won’t learn Origin any other way and NSW will need him, Soward’s style of play suits Origin perfectly ( I’d put Carney on the bench – I’m positive he’d be a good dummy half ).

    • May 8th 2012 @ 5:48pm
      Brett said | May 8th 2012 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

      you HAVE to heve Stewart at fullback he is a prolific try scorer and if hayne and jennings are out with injuri then i would go with the 2 Morrises however Jamal would work well with jennings and uate and hayne would be good wings. get a whole islander backline

  • May 8th 2012 @ 11:12pm
    Jeff McGinn said | May 8th 2012 @ 11:12pm | ! Report

    Brett and Raugee, Idris is going to struggle to keep his place in the Titans squad unless he learns to defend at Centre!. Matt King is not good enough for SOO. and I already said too much on Jarryd Hayne.

    I like Soward, but doubt that he will even be considered, The Nine Commentary team have already influenced everyone as to the make up of the NSW halfback combination. A pity coz Soward wins games off his boot and attacking play EVERY week. PLUS they need a goalkicker!.

    • May 9th 2012 @ 9:27pm
      Brett said | May 9th 2012 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

      I dont care about form Hayne WILL step up to the plate for origin i just no it too good to be left out no matter the form. i would have Lyon instead of King but he doesnt do Rep so im going with experience. Just think what you would get with jamie and Carney on either sides of the park…. you would get MASS CREATIVITY jamie with akuila on the wing because he can contest jamies bombs leading to tries and hayne on the other wing with carney because he can find the tryline from a hole created by carney.

  • May 9th 2012 @ 6:03pm
    Storm Gal said | May 9th 2012 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

    too right jeff. i have seen lots of selections on this forum and a lot of them havent even included a reckognised goal kicker.

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