McCarthy lays down Origin challenge - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

McCarthy lays down Origin challenge

By Brent Read 12/05/2003 08:09:42 PM Comments (0)

NSW chairman of selectors Bob McCarthy set the scene today for a gripping City-Country game by declaring 15 spots were up for grabs in the Blues side for the opening State of Origin game.

McCarthy revealed only two players - Newcastle and Country captain Andrew Johns and his Knights teammate Ben Kennedy - were assured of a place in the NSW squad for Origin I at Suncorp Stadium on June 11.

"Johns picks himself and Kennedy at his top is as good as (Queensland's Gorden) Tallis," McCarthy said.

"The rest is pretty open. There's nothing cut and dried here.

"We know it's going to be a fair dinkum trial and we just hope we don't lose anyone with injury."

The most contentious positions appear to be fullback, centre, hooker and the front row.

McCarthy revealed Cronulla fullback David Peachey was still in the reckoning for the No.1 jersey despite a slow start to the year, but it's likely he needs a big game to edge Anthony Minichiello.

All four centres - City's Mark Gasnier and Michael De Vere and Country's Shaun Timmins and Jamie Lyon - are in the running for the two available spots while Craig Wing has closed the gap on Danny Buderus for the hooking role.

"Buderus is the incumbent but Craig Wing has been scintillating this year from dummy half, he's really been one of the success stories," McCarthy said.

"The front row is wide open, the second row would nearly be cut and dry but lock is open, halfback will sort itself out.

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