Bennett fears another rep headache - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bennett fears another rep headache

By Todd Balym 17/04/2009 08:28:51 PM Comments (0)

It's the headache Wayne Bennett cops every year - he just never thought he'd get it at St George-Illawarra.

The new Dragons coach on Friday revealed he expects the representative season to ravage his side, much like it did to Brisbane for the more than two decades, as selectors reward the hot form of his ladder leaders.

Bennett believes up to four players could earn Test selection for the Australia and New Zealand clash in Brisbane on Friday, May 8, with many more in line for City-Country honours in a game being played on the same night in Orange.

This will create a major problem for Bennett as his side has to play North Queensland in Townsville the very next day.

The Dragons and Cowboys are the only sides playing on the Saturday and a charter flight has been organised by the ARL to help get players from Orange to Townsville via Brisbane the morning after the game.

"If they keep playing like they are they're certainly going to put their hands up," said Bennett when asked of his players' representative chances.

"We have a couple of New Zealand players here as well.

"That is one of my upcoming fears at the moment. We have City-Country game and we have to be in Townsville the following night.

"We've got a Test match as well. Jeremy Smith and Jason Nightingale will be close to that. If Coops (Matt Cooper) is fit he could be in the Test match. Maybe we may have another bolter there as well.

"But the City Country game I don't know how many I will lose. It's an issue for us. We didn't have City-Country in Queensland.

"The league will do what they can to help us but it's a pretty tough 24 hours for the players."

Despite the effect it could have on his players, Bennett supports the City-Country concept.

"It is important to some of the players. A few of them intimated to me they'd like to play," he said.

"As a player a long time ago it was always important to make the rep teams. It was just a part of progression.

"The young players still have that dream and that's the benefit of it and they should provide it."

Bennett knows Origin could also decimate his squad with Maroons incumbent Darius Boyd and former Test winger Wendell Sailor both potential Queensland candidates after coach Mal Meninga visited Dragons training on Friday.

Props Michael Weyman and Justin Poore, backrower Ben Creagh, utilities Dean Young and Ben Hornby, centre Matt Cooper and five-eighth Jamie Soward will also come under close consideration for NSW selection.

Bennett said Sailor, 33, still has what it takes to be part of Queensland's campaign as they chase a fourth successive series success.

"Wendell would have to come into the mix. If you want to win a State of Origin series you are not worried about someone's age and just worry about getting the best players on the field," he said.

"(Meninga) is looking for their best players and Wendell is in some good form, he would be a chance."

The same applies to Weyman, who has finally found consistency after playing 47 games over six years in Canberra.

Weyman will miss Saturday's clash with Newcastle due to suspension, but Bennett knows he is on the path to representative honours.

"I don't like to pump their bags up too much but he is on track," said Bennett.

"He is playing good football, he is playing with a good football team and he is one of the guys in the mix for it and that's all you can do.

"He knows if he is playing the footy that gives him the best chance of making the team. If he is not playing the football he knows he is no chance.

"He will be a loss (this week). He has been good. He averages seven games a year and he is on five after five so I've got to assume he didn't want an injury so he is looking for a little way to have a break."

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