Merrin sets his sights on Origin recall


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    Penrith star Trent Merrin is refusing to give up on a NSW State of Origin recall as he declared being in the best shape of his rugby league career.

    While the hype has scaled back on the Panthers’ premiership chances this year, there remains a heavy expectation on halves Nathan Cleary and James Maloney to be picked for the Blues.

    A strong start to the season for Penrith could result in the pair joining up to seven Panthers in the reckoning for NSW coach Brad Fittler in his first series in charge.

    Cleary and Maloney will largely be relying on the grunt work of former Blues stars James Tamou and Trent Merrin, and current Kangaroos prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard, at club level.

    Australian winger Josh Mansour and hooker Peter Wallace, who was named in the game one squad last year before withdrawing due to injury, could also come into Origin calculations.

    Merrin, who hasn’t pulled on the sky blue since 2015, insists he won’t stop fighting for a recall.

    “I never will. It’s something that always drives me. As a kid you dream of being in that Blues jersey. I played in 13 games and it’s something that I want to continue to do,” he said.

    “If the team goes well, it puts you in a good position for a lot of our players to get picked into a team like that. At the end of the day it comes down to what footy you and the club’s playing.”

    A member of the Kangaroos’ triumphant Four Nations team in 2016 and last year’s mid-year Test, Merrin was overlooked by coach Mal Meninga for the World Cup.

    The former St George Illawarra forward admitted he was well below his best in 2017 but on the back of a full pre-season, is adamant he can rediscover his best football.

    “This has been the best I’ve looked in my career. I’ve put a big effort since missing out on the World Cup and making it best for me,” he said.

    “Coming off the Four Nations last year and doing my calf in pre-season just set me back a lot. It’s hard once the season starts to catch up on a few weeks of pre-season.

    “It comes down to my body shape and all that last year too. I was carrying a few too many kilos and I couldn’t get around the field the way I’d like to.

    “(But) this is the best I’ve looked in my career.”

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • Roar Guru

      February 20th 2018 @ 8:09am
      The Barry said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      “Let me get this straight. You’re pleased with your current appearance? Oh hoh hoh hoh hoh. Ahh why my good man, you’re the fattest thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been on safari.” – C.M. Burns

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2018 @ 9:11am
        Nat said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        :0 Got him, yes!!!

    • February 20th 2018 @ 8:16am
      peeko said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      must be february – everyone is having the best pre season ever and want to play origin

    • February 20th 2018 @ 8:31am
      BA Sports said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

      Its visually misleading Trent – You think you look lighter now because before you looked hefty standing next to the slender phyisque of Sally. Now when you look in the mirror you don’t have to compare yourself to one of the fittest bodies in the country…So the only weight you have dropped is the 58kilos that used to hold your hand…

    • February 20th 2018 @ 9:10am
      MAX said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Stop it Trent. You’ll go blind. At $750K per season it’s time you delivered.

    • Roar Guru

      February 20th 2018 @ 9:18am
      Nat said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      Merrin has made his other Panthers men look good in the last few seasons. Who is he going to displace in the current squad? The Captain, MoM – Jackson, Frizell or Graham? I would have his other backrow partners before him based on his latest showings.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 20th 2018 @ 3:46pm
      Joe said | February 20th 2018 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

      Going to be tough to get back in there. Got Frizell, Jurbo, Graham ahead of him from last year and I’d think Finucane would be too.

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