All Stars bolter Mason NSW-bound?

By Laine Clark,


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    Spruiking has never been a problem for Willie Mason. But the usually softly-spoken Wayne Bennett thought he’d talk up the re-born Newcastle forward anyway in Brisbane on Wednesday.

    And NSW mentor Laurie Daley is listening.

    Mason, 32, received a shock call-up in the 20-strong NRL All Stars squad for the February 9 season opener at Suncorp Stadium after coach Bennett included him as a “coach’s selection”.

    Mason might also fall into the “coach’s favourite” category judging by Bennett, who could not hide his admiration for his larger-than-life Knights charge on Wednesday.

    “I picked him on his football ability but he will help in the talking it up stakes,” Bennett laughed.

    “He has trained great. He is as enthusiastic as I have ever seen him – this is a just reward for him.”

    Mason better get used to surprises.

    Indigenous All Stars coach Daley, who will hold the NSW State of Origin reins for the first time in 2013, revealed Mason was already in the mix for a Blues jersey – five years after the forward last played representative football.

    “I spoke to Wayne before about Willie,” Daley said.

    “He’s a player who adds experience and size and we could do with a bit more size in the front row for NSW.

    “He’s a guy who needs to continually play well and, if he does, who knows what will happen?”

    Mason has not looked back since being thrown a lifeline midway through last season, earning a two-year contract extension last November.

    Once the NRL’s class clown, it seems Mason has become teacher’s pet at Newcastle under Bennett after earning the Coach’s Award at last year’s end-of-season presentation.

    Bennett said Mason’s boxing training for last month’s charity bout against rugby union player Troy Flavell had ensured he would pick up where he left off from last year’s impressive comeback.

    “To just come into the competition when everyone else had played seven or eight games, it was pretty impressive stuff,” he said.
    Daley chose another comeback kid from the Knights, Timana Tahu, as one of his coach’s picks along with Canberra rookie Jack Wighton.

    Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk was the other player added to the NRL All Stars squad by Bennett after South Sydney sensation Adam Reynolds was named at No.7 by an on-line fan poll.

    “Once the team is picked, I can do whatever I want but Adam will start. The fans wanted that and I have been pretty respectful of that,” Bennett said.

    The two squads were named after more than 40,000 fans voted on-line.

    A representative from each of the 16 clubs must feature in the NRL All Stars but fans could pick from all of the competition’s indigenous talent for Daley’s team.

    Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall will again captain the NRL All Stars, which features Billy Slater at fullback and Parramatta livewire Jarryd Hayne on the bench.

    The Indigenous side is led by Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston and features an electric backline including Ben Barba, Justin Hodges, Greg Inglis and Blake Ferguson.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • January 17th 2013 @ 4:59am
      Johnno said | January 17th 2013 @ 4:59am | ! Report

      If the Blues can get a front row going of.

      James Tamou and Tim Grant(Tim Grant really impressed me, he has a tonne of talent if he can step up even more he will be on the plane to the world cup a classic modern prop, fast, athletic, aggressive, and tough.).

      And have TTLars , and Willie Mason coming off the bench as props or 2nd rowers, then NSW will have some real size. Add in big T-Rex too. Also Fifita is another player who might step up, big and strong. Also if Idris can get back to form NSW will sure have 1 big team, fi they can get all those guys on the field at once.

      QLD will have Josh Pappelli most likely too make his debut, he is impressive just ask Paul Gallen. QLD lack a bit fo size this year I think.

      Willies Mason is 32 going on 33 this year, but he still might be up to the speed of rep footy time will tell, Be a real bonus if he does.

      • January 17th 2013 @ 7:39am
        oikee said | January 17th 2013 @ 7:39am | ! Report

        I think Mason has a lot of footy left in him. Dont forget he was on holidays for years when he left the NRL, now his comeback is complete and the blues would be mad not to add another bohemith to the pack.
        Mason is another success story of players coming back to the game. Only Isreal and Sonny-Bill left now and the whole family be back together.
        Spot on Johnno, good post.

        • January 17th 2013 @ 10:59am
          Brett said | January 17th 2013 @ 10:59am | ! Report

          THE whole family wouldbe back if Isreal wasnt a money hog

      • January 17th 2013 @ 10:58am
        Brett said | January 17th 2013 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        couldn’t argee with you more, except for one thing….Willie is a starter. Wether he i in the front row or secound. The way i see it is they could have Glenn on the bench and Willie in the 2nd row (I am a manly supporter but i like this option better) OR Tim Grant on the bench (MERRIN NEED TO GO) and Willie started me. Time grant should be there somewhere as he did impress last year.
        MY bench 14 Feleti mateo 15 TREX 16 watemough and 17 Luke lewis 18 Glenn (if willie is starting 2nd row) or tim grant.
        This is probly going to change with injuries during the year.

      • January 17th 2013 @ 5:57pm
        What a joker said | January 17th 2013 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

        NSW will never select 3 or 4 props in the 17. They will do what they have previously done and select Gallen at prop, with Tamou the other starter. Then use Watmough, Creagh and the like to fill some minutes up front. Yeah, Taylor, Shillington, Hannant and Thaiday are all 110kgs-120kgs, how exactly are they lacking size?

        • January 17th 2013 @ 7:28pm
          Brett said | January 17th 2013 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

          Ricky said that he had gallen in 10 because there were know props good enough in 2011 for origin which is debatable. If you saw game 2 and 3 of 2012 and 1 of 2011 then you will know that he is usually a lock. And look at this series we had Merrin (a prop) on the bench for game 2. We did have three props in that game. And what do you mean lacking size are you talking about qld or referring to my previous comment on nsw lacking size because if you are take a look, qld have Matt Scott, Greg inglis, the 2 David’s and Ben hannant and thaiday, ben Teo. Who do we have ?a few smaller guys like Hayne, Watemough and g Stewart. But neither of those guys exceed from 194cm except for Tamou and Tim grant and possibly Trex. Throw Willie and felti Mateo in and we can match the big Queensland forward pack and there bench player. I’m just glad that they don’t have folau and lote

          • January 17th 2013 @ 7:48pm
            Johnno said | January 17th 2013 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

            Jarryd Hayne is 6’2 102 kg Hardly what you call lacking size, with the Hayne train Brett.

            • January 17th 2013 @ 7:52pm
              Brett said | January 17th 2013 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

              Don’t get me wrong he’s big but my comment is kinda referring back maybe 2-3 year when Queensland had there big backs. My head is confusing me with the losses of series which I hopes stops this year. But stand Side by side with inglis you will see a height difference

              • January 17th 2013 @ 8:01pm
                Johnno said | January 17th 2013 @ 8:01pm | ! Report

                I agree Greg Inglis is bigger , but GI is just about the biggest player in the comp. Kasiano is bigger , but GI all roudn height and size, he is the biggest. But Hayne is still the complete package, and outside of Greg inglis Hayne for mine is the best outside back in the game, and yes that includes SLater. On his day Hayne maybe better than Gi, Hayne is so elusive , accelerates well reads a game well. Both Hayne and Inglis are superstars, no doubt about it.

            • January 17th 2013 @ 8:03pm
              Brett said | January 17th 2013 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

              Yeah Hayne is better then slater for sure. And more agile then gi

              • January 17th 2013 @ 9:24pm
                Jake said | January 17th 2013 @ 9:24pm | ! Report

                I hope there is a hint of sarcasm in that comment, Brett?

    • Roar Rookie

      January 17th 2013 @ 9:51am
      John Vizzone said | January 17th 2013 @ 9:51am | ! Report

      Mason is Wayne’s flavour of the month because he tried hard in a badly beaten team last year.

      This selection, amongst others, makes a mockery of the Áll Stars’ concept.

      I also don’t expect to see him at Origin.

      Johnno- Dare you to ask Gallen what he thinks of Pappali.

    • Roar Rookie

      January 17th 2013 @ 12:51pm
      josh said | January 17th 2013 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

      I guess at the very least Mason would be able to inspire the young kids with tales of Origin’s lost.

    • January 17th 2013 @ 1:20pm
      Terry Kidd said | January 17th 2013 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

      Interesting that people deride Willi for supposedly talking himself up yet Sailor was lauded for it. To tell the truth I didn’t hear Willi doing to much talking about himself last year and I thought he played some pretty good footy. If he is selected for NSW SOO then good on him. At least we know that he will turn up and play, and won’t squib it. A Blues front row of Tamou, Mason and Grant is one I would have little argument with.

      • January 17th 2013 @ 3:26pm
        Brett said | January 17th 2013 @ 3:26pm | ! Report

        agreed. they will bring size which nsw has kinda struggled with aside from the 2012 series

    • January 17th 2013 @ 5:09pm
      Gus Paella said | January 17th 2013 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

      Johnno c’mon. Size doesn’t equal success! Williams and Idris aren’t up to it. A speedy, ball playing back row almost did it for NSW this year if not for Uate dogging it, a dodgy try and a field goal to Cronk.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

      • January 19th 2013 @ 11:16am
        oikee said | January 19th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        Hey Gus, be careful mate, some statements can come back to haunt you, and with a name like Gus, putting your foot in it wont come as any surprise, .
        Cheers mate, no offence on the name. I happen to like Gus, short and,,,,,um lets just say short and compact. 🙂

        Williams and Idris have all the right ingredients for success, they are Big, Bad and Ugly.
        (yes i know, i know, Idris is not ugly, but still. 🙂 )

    • January 17th 2013 @ 7:58pm
      Johnno said | January 17th 2013 @ 7:58pm | ! Report

      NSW pack early prediction:

      13) Gal
      10)James Tamou
      9) Robbie Farah (to all those who thought a grand final winner, aussy test rep was not up to the toughness of state of origin, ate some big humble pie last year, and so did Mick Ennis who i rate too, but Farah is better
      8) Willie Mason

      Tim Grant, Tariq Sims (very exciting and really aggressive and fiery too 6’4 106kg 23 this year, really raw and aggressive and strong just can’t leave him out, a player as they say, suited too origin , Greg Bird , Kurt Gidley if he comes back to fitness

      Back up forwards and utility players:
      Big Tom LLlars, Glen Stewart, Luke Lewis, and probably some other back up players some young rookies and young blotters.

      • January 17th 2013 @ 7:59pm
        Brett said | January 17th 2013 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

        I like it a lot but Trex should be used off the bench and bird should start IMO

        • January 17th 2013 @ 8:04pm
          Johnno said | January 17th 2013 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

          True that’s a good point. QLD may try to take T-rex out of the game early if he starts,. But early on you have to fight fire with fire. And Bird is smaller. I’d maybe start with Tariq sims even , Bird is creative and can come on fresh after the 1st 20 and really create some gaps. Either way state of origin is going to be exciting this year, the interest will be as big as ever I predict Brett.
          And there will be injuries, and some bottlers, and young rookies on both states step up and force there way in, it happens every year.
          Josh Pappeli i think will make the QLD squad at some stage this year if he is injury free, and in form.

          • January 17th 2013 @ 8:11pm
            Brett said | January 17th 2013 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

            Well my rugby league motto has always been ” to win you need early dominance” so yeah fight fire with fire.
            My team for battle would be
            Brett Stewart
            J Hayne
            M Jennings
            J mos
            Kurt Gidley or soward
            Willie mason
            Robbie or bedsy as I like him a lot
            Felti Mateo
            Luke Lewis
            However there will be form issues and injuries so I have
            War machin Tariq
            A tupou
            B kite
            Kurt Gidley ( if not the half back)
            And Tim grant
            Tell me what you think

      • January 17th 2013 @ 8:35pm
        oikee said | January 17th 2013 @ 8:35pm | ! Report

        Yes pretty good Brett, and Johnno, as long as you have got Gallen and Bird in the team, you cant really go to far wrong.
        I think both these players have come of age.
        Same as Mason, he has really been good since his return under Bennett.
        This is why i say we should always give young players as many chances as we can afford as a game. All these players were vertually the bad boys, now they are going on to become role models, what a turnaround. I never liked Gallen, but gee he has changed my mind of him as a person and leader.

        Aiden Seazer, he also seems like a future rep player. Another indigenous kid.

        • January 17th 2013 @ 8:38pm
          Brett said | January 17th 2013 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

          It’s good to see that those 3 are all so much older and maturer. I just wish manly had taken in Willie 🙂