Injured Johns may be in NSW Origin squad - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Injured Johns may be in NSW Origin squad

By Laine Clark 08/05/2005 08:48:35 PM Comments (0)

NSW rugby league coach Ricky Stuart says the Blues squad to be named on Monday will feature players marked for the whole State of Origin series - not just the May 25 opener - in a major shot in the arm for recovering halfback Andrew Johns.

Stuart has not ruled out naming a squad of up to 30 in a bid to earmark players for the entire best-of-three series which kicks-off next week in Brisbane.

It will be music to the ears of Johns who is hoping to be back from a broken jaw and on the field for NRL club Newcastle in a month - about 10 days before Origin II at Sydney's Telstra Stadium.

Johns' availability would add more food for thought over the hotly contested NSW halfback role coveted by front-runner Brett Kimmorley of Cronulla, Penrith's Craig Gower and Melbourne No.7 Matt Orford.

Kimmorley played in last month's Test win over New Zealand so was unavailable for Friday night's NSW Origin selection trial won 29-22 by City over Country at Lismore.

There was much conjecture over whether the City-Country clash was considered a genuine NSW selection trial with the Blues' Test stars made unavailable, and Stuart admitting he watched the game on TV from a Sydney race track.

Although he played in the trial, Gower - who was named at hooker and played at halfback in a starring role for City - still believed Kimmorley would be named Blues halfback.

"I heard Sticky (Stuart) saying it (City-Country) was considered a genuine selection trial but you never know - I've just got to keep up my form," Gower said.

"But I've got to be realistic. I think Brett will start and then we'll see how we go."

Incumbent Test halfback Kimmorley admitted he would have jumped at the chance to play in City-Country but "would wait and see" what the NSW selectors had in mind.

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