Taylor pushes Merritt for City Origin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Taylor pushes Merritt for City Origin

By Wayne Heming 02/05/2009 06:50:06 PM Comments (0)

South Sydney coach Jason Taylor urged selectors to give exciting speedster Nathan Merritt a chance to audition for State of Origin after the Rabbitohs' gusty 22-14 NRL loss to the Titans at Skilled Park on Saturday.

As Titans veteran Preston Campbell played down the possibility of re-igniting his representative career, despite another starring role in the narrow win, Taylor called for Merritt to be named on Sunday in the City side for Friday night's annual clash with Country at Orange.

While Taylor said five-eighth John Sutton (City) and centre Colin Best (City) both had good claims, he thought try-scoring ace Merritt deserved to be picked.

"John Sutton and Colin Best were in the 40-man squad which is good for them and you'd imagine they'd get a shot at it," said Taylor, who praised his team's scrambling defence after the Titans enjoyed most of the possession in the second half.

"Nathan Merrit is the biggest one for us.

"He's a phenomenal try scorer, great defender, as good as any winger in the comp.

"In my opinion, I wouldn't swap him for anyone."

Merrit's only taste of representative football was playing for the PM's XIII in 2006.

Souths led 8-6 at half time and almost regained the lead late in the second half after a neat Merrit infield kick found its way into the hands of halfback Chris Sandow only to have video referee Tim Mander rule the ball had been touched in flight by teammate Issac Luke.

Campbell, who's hoping to discuss a contract with the Titans for 2010 very soon, was everywhere.

He started the game at five-eighth but finished at fullback - coach John Cartwright reshuffled his backline, moving Mat Rogers into the centres and starting William Zillman at fullback.

Campbell served up two glorious passes for tries to Rogers in the 70th minute, which hauled the Titans back in front 16-14, after earlier lofting a 25 metres pass to unmarked winger Chris Walker to cross in the 53rd minute.

Campbell, 32 next month, finished the game with his left arm in a sling and will have x-rays on Sunday to check for rib damage.

He wasn't sure about Country selection and felt Origin had passed him by.

"I take pride in playing for the bush," he said.

"It would be tough if I got picked ... whether I could play anyway with this (bruised ribs).

"Origin's a little bit past me I think, they've just got so much youth there."

Titans coach John Cartwright he expected second-rower Anthony Laffranchi to be named in Australia's Test side to play New Zealand in Brisbane on Friday night following another solid game.

"I wouldn't think anyone has taken Boof's jumper off him, I think he's done enough," said Cartwright.

"He's the type of guy (coach) Tim Sheens would want for a fast, tough game."

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