Mal Meninga's man gives Carl Webb hope - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mal Meninga's man gives Carl Webb hope

By Laine Clark 28/04/2009 07:41:11 PM Comments (0)

Queensland coach Mal Meninga's right hand man provided a shot in the arm for snubbed enforcer Carl Webb after the Maroons preliminary 25-strong squad was named on Tuesday.

But he didn't provide much confidence for Scott Prince despite the Gold Coast Titans halfback's inclusion in the squad unveiled ahead of the June 3 Origin opener at Melbourne.

Maroons assistant - and North Queensland coach - Neil Henry admitted his Cowboys charge Webb had endured an "indifferent" season start after the former Test prop was a notable squad absentee along with teammate Matt Bowen.

But Henry said Meninga had told him he would be keeping an open mind before the game one 17 was named on May 26.

"He's had a bit of an indifferent start to the year, but he's proven in that arena," Henry said of Webb.

"And I know after talking to Mal that it (squad) is not the final cut by any means and that players like Carl and (Cowboys forward) Matty Scott can still put their hands up in the next few weeks.

"I thought he (Webb) was thereabouts (for Maroons squad selection) - he will need to step up in the next few weeks."

Webb - a veteran of 12 Origin games - is back in the Cowboys squad after being dropped for a game recently for disciplinary reasons.

However, Henry clearly didn't give much hope for Prince dislodging his prized Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston from the Queensland No.7 spot despite both receiving a Maroons squad nod on Tuesday.

He described dual Dally M Medal winner Thurston as a "shoo in" for Queensland despite Prince applying plenty of pressure this season.

Thurston and flyer Willie Tonga were the only Cowboys represented in the Origin squad.

"Willie has only played a couple of games but he's been in fine form (and) he's played Origin before," Henry said of Tonga who played the last of his two Origin games in 2004 before injury struck.

"He had a couple of years disrupted with injury, hasn't played a lot of footy, but he is certainly in calculations for that squad.

"And JT (Thurston), well, he's a shoo in anyway."

Manly hooker Matt Ballin was one of four uncapped players named in the 25-strong squad - but Henry believed his Cowboys rake Aaron Payne was still on track to usurp the Sea Eagle.

"He (Payne) is a bit unlucky. He had an 80 minute performance (against Manly) on the weekend (and) I thought he got the points over him (Ballin)," Henry said.

"But again he's in the picture. When I talk to Mal and selectors he is thereabouts as well so we will have to see."

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