Pearce misses City nod, Blues race split - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pearce misses City nod, Blues race split

By Todd Balym 03/05/2009 09:07:19 PM Comments (0)

The NSW halfback jersey is Peter Wallace's to lose after the Blues selectors pushed for the Brisbane star to be handed full control of the City side for Friday's clash with Country in Orange.

Wallace unseated Blues incumbent Mitchell Pearce, the Sydney Roosters No.7 left out of the City side and his chances on retaining his NSW jersey dependent on injury.

Knights star Jarrod Mullen beat Cronulla's Trent Barrett to the Country No.7 jumper and is Wallace's biggest threat for the Blues team after upstaging him and Darren Lockyer in his side's win over the Broncos in Newcastle.

City coach John Cartwright confirmed NSW selectors asked for Wallace to have a full 80 minutes in Orange.

"I spoke to (NSW coach) Craig Bellamy and I think to be fair to the half you have to give him 80 minutes to show what he has got," said Cartwright.

"It's tough for a halfback who gets 40 minutes if he doesn't get much ball he is on a hiding to nothing.

"Peter Wallace was the man they wanted to see and probably, form wise, deserves to be there.

"It gives him the inside running. Jarrod Mullen is in the Country team and his form has been good this year.

"It's going to be a true test for Origin I think with a lot of positions up for grabs."

South Sydney 32-year-old Luke Stuart was a shock selection for his City debut at prop while Wade McKinnon, Shane Shackleton and Manly's Adam Cuthbertson were other surprise picks.

Penrith's Michael Jennings and Wests Tigers Chris Lawrence were both named in the City centres but need to recover from ankle injuries.

Jennings could be out anywhere from two weeks to the rest of the season with ligament damage, but Lawrence is expected to be cleared to play.

Cuthbertson is expected to be ruled out with a forearm injury.

"Tomorrow we have the medical but no doubt there'll be some changes to both teams, maybe even the Australian team as well," said Cartwright.

Manly centre Jamie Lyon was picked for the Country side despite previously asking to be left out of all representative sides this year.

St George Illawarra props Michael Weyman and Justin Poore were, as expected, picked for their debuts, along with Bulldogs hooker Michael Ennis.

Country selector Jock Colley said coach Laurie Daley had spoken to Lyon and was adamant the Manly star wanted to play.

"Laurie asked him 'are you keen to play' and Jamie replied 'yes, I'm keen to play and keen to do well'," said Colley.

"You can't believe everything you read in the press ... I'm confident his heart will be in it.

"I believe his form warrants him to be picked. He's one of the form centres in the competition."

With just seven NSW players picked in the Australian side - and all but Kurt Gidley forwards - the City-Country clash is a genuine trial for the Blues positions.

"I think so more than ever with the Australian side having a lot of Queenslanders we've been able to get the strongest teams on paper for a City Country game that we've had for a long time," said Cartwright.

"A good performance on Friday night can get them a sky blue jumper."

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