Ballin a solid Maroons back-up: Hasler - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ballin a solid Maroons back-up: Hasler

By Steve Jancetic 20/04/2010 07:19:26 PM Comments (0)

He's the secret behind Manly's dramatic resurgence, and now Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler says underrated hooker Matt Ballin should be next in line for the Queensland No.9 jumper should anything befall Test rake Cameron Smith.

Ballin totally out-pointed Smith in Manly's 18-16 win over Melbourne on Monday, continuing a remarkable four-match unbeaten run that has coincided with Ballin being handed an 80-minute role.

And it's good enough to have Hasler labelling Ballin ready for Origin - but only if injury or suspension prevents Smith from taking his place as one of the first men picked in the Queensland side.

"Obviously Cameron Smith will be Origin hooker but if something happened to him I wouldn't have any hesitation (using Ballin)," Hasler said.

"I'd imagine he'd be in the selectors' minds for sure."

Though reluctant to assume credit for the Sea Eagles' turnaround, statistics show the effect Ballin has had on the side.

The Sea Eagles succumbed to stunning comebacks over the opening two rounds when they gave up 20-4 and 20-0 leads in going down to Wests Tigers and Parramatta.

In both games Ballin was benched in the second period and restricted to 56 and 63 minutes respectively with off-season recruit Terence Seu Seu given a run at dummy half.

That plan was soon scrapped with Seu Seu dumped, and the Sea Eagles have won every game since.

"I think it's just co-incidence. We're just playing better in the last four games," said Ballin, who racked up a career-high 54 tackles in the win over the Storm.

"Things are clicking for us.

"He (Hasler) wants four forwards on the bench and it seems to be working well."

"I enjoy playing 80 minutes. I want to play the whole game, as everyone does.

"I find it a bit more comfortable. You don't have to rush things and you can take your time and pick your moments."

As for his Origin chances, Ballin refused to talk up his prospects.

"Cameron Smith has the No.9 locked up and we'll see what happens from there," Ballin said.

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