Anasta can press for Origin spot - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Anasta can press for Origin spot

By Todd Balym and Steve Jancetic 12/06/2008 07:38:47 PM Comments (0)

Sydney Roosters star Braith Anasta has the ideal opportunity to press his NSW selection claims in Friday's NRL clash with Penrith at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Anasta was a controversial omission from the Blues side in Origin I as NSW selectors overlooked his career-best form to pick Cronulla's Greg Bird.

Bird repaid their faith by claiming man-of-the-match honours as NSW won 18-10, but now finds his position in the team under threat after an ordinary performance in the Blues' 30-0 defeat in Origin II on Wednesday night.

Anasta meanwhile has responded brilliantly at club level, with successive tryscoring doubles after his Origin I snubbing and leading the Roosters to a share of the competition lead.

He struggled in the Roosters shock 42-0 drubbing from Manly last week, but gets four Origin forwards back this week to help the club recover for Friday's clash with the Panthers.

Roosters teammate and NSW forward Willie Mason agreed Anasta had the perfect platform now to relaunch his quest for an Origin recall.

"Braith's an option (for Origin III) for sure, he's been playing great football and he wouldn't let anyone down," said Mason.

"But that's not anything against Birdy - it wasn't his fault what happened last night. He was out there busting his gut.

"If anything we (the forwards) let him down, he didn't really have much of a chance to get going."

Part of Anasta's 2008 resurgence has been the superb combination he's built with young halfback Mitchell Pearce.

NRL statistics reveal that the pair have combined for 22 try assists at the halfway mark of this year, only four shy of last year's season total of 26.

But one of the other impressive statistics favouring the Roosters halves is their defensive records, with Pearce defying his size to be ranked second in the NRL for one-on-one tackles.

Pearce has made 35 one-on-one tackles in 12 games this year and only trails Brisbane defensive machine David Stagg (48) who is the runaway leader.

At just 181cm and 86kg Pearce is clearly the smallest player in the Roosters defensive line and as such opposing teams direct plenty of traffic in his direction.

But the 19-year-old is taking it all in his stride.

"I've always loved tackling, it comes naturally to me," Pearce said.

"I'm feeling pretty comfortable with my defence at the moment.

"It's good to get in and try and jam them to make sure they don't keep coming at you."

He'll need to be at his defensive best on Friday as the Panthers send rampaging forwards Frank Pritchard and Petero Civoniceva in his immediate direction.

Pearce credits the five kilograms of muscle he put on during the offseason as the reason he's been able to handle the defensive attention which comes his way.

"As you get a bit stronger you become more effective when you defend," he said.

"I've put on a bit of weight and got a fair bit stronger over the last year.

"I've been really happy with my defence this year."

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