Stick with Wallace for Origin: Mortimer - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stick with Wallace for Origin: Mortimer

19/05/2008 07:34:05 PM Comments (0)

Former NSW champion Steve Mortimer says Peter Wallace deserves the entire Origin series to prove his worth, but coach Craig Bellamy has refused to guarantee the rookie halfback's survival beyond Wednesday night's opening clash.

Wallace has been thrust into the No.7 hotseat against Queensland at ANZ Stadium as the Blues' search for an heir apparent to Andrew Johns enters its third season.

Mortimer claimed comparisons to Johns - who has been working on a one-on-one basis with Wallace this week - were out of line and said fans and selectors had to give the Brisbane playmaker time to settle into the role.

"Give him the three games to see how he goes," Mortimer told AAP.

"They need to stick with him.

"That's something we haven't always done but Queensland do really well - it doesn't matter what happens, win lose or draw they stay with their players and I think we need to do that with Wallace.

"I have watched his games with Brisbane and he has certainly taken on the leadership of Darren Lockyer in both attack and defence.

"(Johns) wasn't selected in the top 13 (the Team of the Century) for nothing, he was a great player ... maybe we should stop expecting too much."

In the six games played since Johns retired from representative football, Brett Finch, Craig Gower, Jarrod Mullen and Brett Kimmorley have all worn the NSW No.7 jumper.

Despite Wallace becoming the fifth playmaker in seven games, Bellamy and NSW selector Bob Fulton refused to guarantee there would not be another new face for game two.

In fact Wallace wasn't even the first choice for the series opener, he was forced to make a mad dash from Broncos training after Newcastle utility Kurt Gidley suffered a fractured cheekbone on the eve of Origin selection.

Gidley is touch and go to return for game two, and so it appears is Wallace.

"We'd need to see what happens Wednesday night and go from there," Bellamy said.

"We're not looking past game one at the moment, we're just worried about Wednesday night and we'll worry about what happens after that after that."

Bellamy said he was impressed with how much Wallace had taken out of his week's tutelage under Johns, the Storm mentor mindful of not trying to overload the 22-year-old.

"They're spending a fair bit of time together, they're nearly rooming together," Bellamy said.

"Joey's been a wonderful influence on him, obviously they've spoken about a lot of things about how halfback play goes, his kicking game.

"We've been very aware that we don't want to fill his head with too much stuff, he's obviously played very well to get into the team, we don't need him changing too much for Wednesday night.

"It's just a couple of little subtleties that Joey's been working with him and Peter's certainly taken them on board."

The only man to have captained and coached NSW Origin clean sweeps - Wayne Pearce - said Wallace could set himself up for a long run in the No.7 with a win on Wednesday night.

It would also set up the Blues, with only four sides in the 27 years of Origin coming back to win the series after losing the opening game.

"I think game one will be our biggest challenge because for sure the nucleus of the team will be there for games two and three," Pearce said.

"If we get through the hurdle of game one look we will bring the series back to NSW without a doubt."

The Blues were given the day off on Monday and will have a closed training run at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

Penrith utility Luke Lewis was on Monday added to the squad as 18th man and will act as cover in case of any late mishaps.

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