Blue jerseys there for the taking: coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blue jerseys there for the taking: coach

By Liam FitzGibbon 04/05/2009 04:35:25 PM Comments (0)

City Origin coach John Cartwright says NSW hopefuls have never had a better opportunity to force their way into State of Origin than in Friday night's City v Country match in Orange.

With only seven NSW players picked in the Australian side which will play New Zealand on the same night in Brisbane, City and Country have been able to field strong line-ups for the annual clash.

And with majority of NSW spots still wide open, Cartwright says he can't remember a more important Origin trial.

"It's a massive opportunity for anyone, I think more so than ever before, for a guy to come out put a stamp on this game and win himself a NSW jumper," Cartwright said on Monday.

"That's going to be one of our biggest motivators.

"There's a hell of a lot of reasons to go out there this Friday and do a good job."

The Gold Coast Titans mentor also plans to give his charges every chance to make an impression by taking an attacking, free-flowing approach into the game.

"We'd be mad not to, we've got pace across the park, skill and size, we want to go out there and play football," Cartwright said.

"We definitely don't want to be running from dummy half and make it a dour affair ... we want to go out there and give these guys a chance to impress."

Cartwright on Monday defended the decision to leave incumbent NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce out of the City squad, with Brisbane halfback Peter Wallace the only No.7 in the 17.

Even Wallace admitted he thought both he and Pearce would be picked in the squad, as they were last year, to give both a trial but Cartwright said the Broncos playmaker had earned a full shot at the NSW No.7.

"It's tough on Mitchell because he's obviously not far away but I think Peter Wallace's form this year, you can't deny that," Cartwright said.

"He was the last halfback chosen last year before injury and I don't think it's fair to have two specialist number sevens in your squad.

"I think Peter's form warrants he should be there and I think he should get the full 80 minutes to prove he should be the NSW man again."

Wallace admitted the selection decision had put him in the box seat.

"It's a step in the right direction," he said.

"I think a lot of it will come down to this Friday."

City received mixed news on Monday before heading to Orange.

Boom centres Michael Jennings and Chris Lawrence both overcame ankle injuries to be passed fit while Manly forward Adam Cuthbertson was ruled out with an elbow injury.

Cuthbertson's withdrawal saw Mark O'Meley called up for what will be his first representative appearance since 2006. He will join the team, along with Jennings, on Monday night.

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