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Blues adamant Mason's Origin career okay

21/04/2009 07:45:21 PM Comments (0)

The boss of the NSW rugby league is adamant Willie Mason's Origin career is not over despite the former Test enforcer being overlooked for the Blues preliminary squad.

Mason was one of several big names not included in the 40-man squad, with Sydney Roosters teammates Braith Anasta and Craig Fitzgibbon also snubbed after appearing in last year's series decider in Brisbane.

Despite indicating his desire to be overlooked, Manly centre Jamie Lyon was included.

There was no room for Origin veterans Steve Simpson, Brett Kimmorley, Nathan Hindmarsh, Andrew Ryan or Trent Barrett - selectors turning to youth in a bid to avert a record fourth straight series loss to Queensland.

"They've certainly gone on form and a lot of the form players are young players," NSW rugby league general manager Geoff Carr said.

"It's probably a bit of a warning to the older players that there's still time, but they've got to get stuck in because the young players have had an exciting start to the season.

"They (the selectors) made it clear they were going to go on form and the players that are in that squad are all playing extremely well."

As for Mason, who has been a mainstay in the Blues pack since making his Origin debut in 2003, Carr denied a line had been put through his name.

"I wouldn't think so. Willie's been around, he's got plenty of experience," Mason said.

"It may be the motivation to get him back into the squad.

"The Roosters form has probably been down a little, that may have affected selection but they can turn that around."

Lyon's selection is particularly puzzling after his repeated requests to be overlooked.

Country Origin selectors indicated they would not select a player who did not want to wear the Country jumper, but it appears NSW officials are adamant that the 27-year-old be available for selection.

"The board of the Australian Rugby League determined that he couldn't get an exemption because he didn't fit the criteria," Carr said of Lyon.

"So the selectors obviously decided that his form warranted selection in the 40-man squad.

Asked if it was in the Blues' interests to select a disgruntled player, Carr said: "That would be up to the selectors and the coach, but they clearly have got some time between now and when Origin is picked to work through that."

Just under half of the 40-man squad has yet to taste Origin football, with 18 players in line for NSW debuts including hooking rivals Michael Ennis and Robbie Farah as well as speedy outside backs Michael Jennings, Chris Lawrence and Test winger David Williams.

Lawrence did his chances no harm with a starring role in Monday's night's upset win over Melbourne - his two-try effort coming in front of Storm and NSW coach Craig Bellamy and state selector Laurie Daley.

"It's a good indication that they're thinking about you," Lawrence said.

"It's good motivation to train a bit harder and hopefully improve my game and play a bit better knowing that the selectors have got you in mind."

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