After last year’s capitulation against ‘Queensland’s worst-ever team’ many assumed that Jack Wighton was a lock to start at five-eighth.
NSW State of Origin rookie Adam Reynolds will attempt to channel his inner Andrew Johns when he makes his debut in this year’s series-opener.
The South Sydney playmaker is the latest halfback to follow in the footsteps of the rugby league Immortal after being named in Laurie Daley’s 19-man squad to take on Queensland on Wednesday week.
A total of seven players have worn the Blues No.7 since Johns’ retirement in 2005, and Reynolds admits he has long harboured a desire to do it.
“Every player in the NRL wants to play rep games. For me, I idolise the likes of Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler and always aspired to be where they were,” he said.
After helping the Rabbitohs to a breakthrough premiership in 2014, the 25-year-old was in the frame for a Blues debut last year before breaking his leg in Souths’ infamous Good Friday win over Canterbury.
Reynolds believed he was ready to play his first Blues game then, but said he is a more accomplished playmaker now.
“I felt ready last year but in saying that I’m better off now than what I was last year,” he said.
“I’ve learnt a lot over the past 12 months and I feel I have more of a knowledge of the game and that I’m way better off for it.”
Reynolds said he was banking on his grand final-winning experience with the Rabbitohs to help him deal with the pressure that comes with steering the Blues’ ship against the might of the Maroons.
Queensland are gunning for their 10th series win in 11 years.
“Any halfback cops a fair bit of flak and pressure. This game will be no different,” he said.
“I was lucky enough to experience a big game in the grand final and there was a fair bit of pressure there as well so I’m just looking forward to the opportunity and having a great week with the boys.
“You’re playing against the best and you’re with the best so for me it’s about building combinations and growing throughout the week before transferring that into the game.”
NSW HALFBACKS SINCE JOEY
Brett Finch (three games at halfback)
Craig Gower (two)
Jarrod Mullen (one)
Brett Kimmorley (ten)
Peter Wallace (four)
Mitchell Pearce (12)
Trent Hodkinson (six)