Anasta poised for another Origin crack - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Anasta poised for another Origin crack

By Steve Jancetic 23/06/2008 07:39:08 PM Comments (0)

Three wins from eight starts - it's the worrying statistic NSW selectors look set to ignore by naming Braith Anasta at five-eighth for the Origin decider.

There was plenty of speculation over the motives behind Anasta's snub for the opening two games of the series, but it is believed the biggest question marks surround his inability to transform NRL form into Origin success.

All that is set to be forgiven, if not forgotten, on Tuesday morning when Blues selectors name him at pivot for Origin III on July 2.

Of the eight Origin games Anasta has started since his debut in 2002, NSW have won only three.

Two of those victories came on the back of masterful performances from Andrew Johns in the 2005 series, while the other came in 2006 when Brett Finch booted a golden point field goal to get the Blues home in the series opener.

The Blues have also been on the end of some heavy defeats with Anasta in the side, including a 36-6 loss in game three in 2002 and a 30-6 game three setback in 2006.

Still, the man whose injury has opened the door for Anasta's return - Cronulla utility Greg Bird - endorsed the Sydney Roosters pivot as the man to wear the NSW No.6 jumper at ANZ Stadium.

"It's pretty hard to go past Braith," said Bird moments after receiving the news his knee injury would keep him out for 2-3 weeks.

"He's been playing some pretty good footy and I'm sure he'll do a good job for them.

"No.6 isn't a position where there's a plentiful amount of them running around."

While his strike rate in the sky blue isn't great, it could also be argued that never before has Anasta been better placed to excel in rugby league's toughest arena.

Anasta is in career-best form and has been consistently good since midway through last season, when the man he has been compared to since bursting on the scene in 2000 - Brad Fittler - took over as Roosters coach.

When Anasta debuted for NSW as a 20-year-old, he was still struggling to live up to the hype which came with his emergence on the NRL stage.

Anasta then played a pivotal role in the Bulldogs' 2004 premiership triumph, but by the time he got his next crack at Origin in 2005, he and the Bulldogs were both struggling.

Then came his high-profile move to the Roosters in 2006 - where he battled osteitis pubis while turning out for both the tri-colours and the Blues.

Deemed unlucky to miss out on snaring the five-eighth spot for Origin I this year, Anasta has refused to buy into his chances of again gaining selection.

His inclusion, likely to be alongside Roosters teammate Mitchell Pearce, could signal a change in tack by the Blues.

The Roosters lead the NRL in tries scored from kicks, and it is believed NSW coach Craig Bellamy is keen to exploit their prowess with the boot in game three.

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