Carney in mix despite Country benching - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Carney in mix despite Country benching

By Steve Jancetic 02/05/2010 07:52:13 PM Comments (0)

His club coach wouldn't pick him and neither would Country selectors, but Sydney Roosters match-winner Todd Carney still remains a viable option to wear the NSW No.6 jumper in Origin I.

Carney was named on the bench for Country Origin's annual clash with City in Port Macquarie on Friday night, selectors handing Gold Coast utility Greg Bird the five-eighth role alongside incumbent NSW halfback Brett Kimmorley.

But despite his selection at five-eighth, Bird remains an unlikely candidate for a start as NSW pivot according to Country coach and Blues selector Laurie Daley.

"Possibly but I wouldn't have thought so," Daley said when asked if Bird was being viewed as a potential Blues five-eighth.

"I would think that Carney would play a lot more time at five-eighth than Greg Bird.

"It was probably something that changed late with the number of backrowers that we had available, I thought they were all deserving of a spot in the starting 13 and hence the move to five-eighth for Greg Bird - four into three didn't go." The late change was believed to have been caused by Jamie Lyon's call-up to the Australian side, with Country selectors initially having him pencilled in to wear the No.6 jumper at the request of NSW coach Craig Bellamy.

Such is the quandary over how best to utilise Carney's talents that even Roosters coach Brian Smith - speaking before the sides had been announced - got himself in a muddle as he attempted to first play down and then talk up Carney's representative chances.

"I wouldn't pick him in the rep teams if it was up to me," Smith said.

"I love him as a bloke, I love all of what he's done but in my opinion he's got a lot of improvement to make to be able to play well at that level.

"It's a big risk and it's probably worth taking to be fair because he's got such top-end talent that if he does happen to find the groove in the next few weeks, Country and the Origin footy, he might just be a winning player for us." NSW incumbent Trent Barrett, whose Cronulla side has struggled mightily this season, was overlooked for a run with Country, though Daley said the veteran playmaker remained in contention.

"He's struggling a little bit at the moment," Daley said of Barrett.

"I wouldn't say he's out of the running, we know what he can do, I would think it would be more about giving some other players an opportunity that at the moment are playing pretty good and seeing where they're at."

The selection puzzle at centre was also muddied with Penrith speedster Michael Jennings shunted out to the wing with Chris Lawrence and Beau Champion preferred in the centres for City Origin, that pair to go up against Country's explosive combination of Timana Tahu and Jamal Idris.

St George Illawarra veteran Matt Cooper was not considered due to a calf strain, while his Dragons teammate Beau Scott was also ruled out with a knee injury.

"It just came down to horses for courses," City Origin coach John Cartwright said of the decision to move Jennings to the flank.

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