Origin snub adds to Anzac Day fire - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Origin snub adds to Anzac Day fire

By Steve Jancetic 21/04/2009 07:03:17 PM Comments (0)

NSW selectors have lit an unexpected fuse under Saturday's Anzac Day NRL battle with dumped Origin veterans Willie Mason and Craig Fitzgibbon to go head-to-head with their Blues replacements.

The Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra will meet on Saturday afternoon at the Sydney Football Stadium.

What was building as a timid Anzac Day clash suddenly came to life on Tuesday when Roosters pair Mason and Fitzgibbon and teammate Braith Anasta were overlooked for a preliminary 40-man NSW squad.

Two of the new faces in the Blues squad are uncapped Dragons front rowers Justin Poore and Michael Weyman - setting up a mouth-watering clash between the rival forwards on Saturday.

Young halfback Mitchell Pearce was the only Rooster named in the Blues squad, coach Brad Fittler hoping the triple snubbing would give his struggling troops added motivation.

"I hope there's some hurt there, I don't think they deserve to be out of the 40," Fittler told reporters.

"They will prove them wrong.

"I thought given there was 40 people chosen they would have been selected.

"I thought Fitzy did a fantastic job for them last year, I thought Braith did a good job and I thought Willie was one of their better forwards too."

Poore and Weyman have been two of the form props over the opening six rounds, former Raider Weyman turning his career around under new Dragons coach Wayne Bennett.

Another player to find a new lease of life is five-eighth Jamie Soward, a former Rooster who is one of the competition's most improved players.

Soward played in last year's Anzac Day clash, won 26-6 by the Dragons, but admitted he was feeling a lot better about life heading into this year's instalment of the annual match.

"Last year was my first Anzac Day game and it was obviously a big day for everyone," Soward said.

"There's a lot of passion out there.

"Last year we were in a different position - we were 1-5 (win-loss record) - and staring down the barrel of our season going down the drain.

"This year it's a little bit different but it's a big occasion for both teams."

The Dragons have been boosted by the return of former Test centre Matt Cooper, while backrower Neville Costigan has been named to return a fortnight ahead of schedule from a broken hand.

Halfback Mathew Head, who was named but not used by Bennett in wins over Brisbane and Parramatta, has also been recalled to an extended bench.

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