Pick O'Donnell at prop for NSW: Roach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pick O'Donnell at prop for NSW: Roach

By David Beniuk 26/05/2008 04:25:16 PM Comments (0)

NSW great and assistant coach Steve Roach believes North Queensland's Luke O'Donnell would make the ideal replacement for injured Blues prop Ben Cross.

Cross will undergo surgery on a broken thumb on Wednesday and is expected to be ruled out for four weeks, meaning he will miss State of Origin II on June 11.

Roach's choice is something of a surprise because O'Donnell, who played two Origin games in 2006, is generally regarded as a back-rower, and the Blues bench in game one did not include a recognised prop.

"I would favour Luke O'Donnell from North Queensland," Roach said.

"He's tailor-made for Origin."

Front-row legend Roach said O'Donnell would have no trouble stepping up into the front-row.

"He can hold up a front-row end easy," Roach told AAP.

"In my opinion Luke O'Donnell is best suited but he probably needs to get a few more games under his belt.

"I just think he's that type of player, he's got a tremendous work-rate, he's a strong bloke, he suits playing in the middle there."

NSW chairman of selectors Bob McCarthy agreed O'Donnell, who only returned from a hip injury two weeks ago, could make the positional switch in league's toughest arena.

"I'm not saying he couldn't do it, we put (Craig) Fitzgibbon there and he handled it," McCarthy told AAP.

"It's no big deal now, front row, back row, the way they play."

Several props put their hands up at the weekend as Cross' injury came to light.

Manly's Test front-rower Brent Kite, who was controversially left out of the Blues side for Origin I, clocked up 168m, 15 hit-ups and 28 tackles against St George Illawarra on Friday night.

"I would think that Brent Kite would come into consideration," Roach said.

"His effort's been great, he's a current Australian front-rower."

The Sydney Roosters' Mark O'Meley followed his big match against Parramatta a week ago with 154m, 20 hit-ups and 19 tackles in his side's win over the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland on Sunday.

"He's in contention, he was obviously spoken about at the last one because of the City-Country game," Roach said.

"They'll have a look at (Gold Coast's) Luke Bailey too.

"It all depends on what they're looking for, what style of game they're going to play and what sort of player best suits that position."

McCarthy said selectors would not get ahead of themselves and would wait to see who was available following this weekend's NRL matches.

"We'll just see what happens," he said.

"We'll look at plenty of players over the weekend. We don't plan for anything because of injuries, all that type of stuff.

"You get yourself in trouble jumping the gun."

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