Hasler backs Ballin for Qld hooker role - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hasler backs Ballin for Qld hooker role

By Ian McCullough 09/05/2010 12:13:34 PM Comments (0)

Manly coach Des Hasler has called on Queensland selectors to pick Sea Eagles hooker Matt Ballin should Cameron Smith miss the this month's State of Origin opener in Sydney.

Smith is in doubt for the May 26 clash after injuring his elbow during the first half of Australia's 12-8 win over New Zealand at AAMI Park on Friday and Hasler believes Ballin is the perfect choice to replace the Melbourne skipper.

"MBF (Ballin) has been playing good, consistent and solid football this year and should Cam Smith need a stand in then I think MBF should be the one to watch," Hasler said.

Ballin showed his versatility by switching to five-eighth in the second half of his side's outstanding 24-6 NRL win over leaders St George Illawarra on Saturday, after Kieran Foran was forced off with a strained hamstring.

The 24-year-old former Brisbane junior said he would be desperate to be involved with Maroons, but believed Smith would play through the pain barrier.

"We'll see what his scans say and if he is out, I would love to play, but he is pretty tough and will be doing all he can to play for Queensland," Ballin said.

"But it all depends on what the selectors are looking for, Nathan Friend is playing really well for the Titans and I am sure he would do a good job for Queensland as well, but first things first, Cam will be desperate to play.

"No-one likes to see anyone get injured and it is probably the only way to get a look in while he is around, but we will wait and see what happens."

Hasler was also full of praise for Jamie Lyon, one of eight Manly players who backed up from representative duties 24 hours earlier.

Lyon kicked three goals and played a huge role in setting up Tony Williams' third try when he somehow clawed back a Trent Hodkinson grubber kick in the in-goal area allowing the big winger to score.

"To be honest I was trying to score the try myself," Lyon admitted after the game.

"I actually feel pretty good despite two games in two days. It was a great effort from all the boys who backed up and to beat a team like the Dragons shows what this team is all about."

Hodkinson, in just his eighth NRL game, was not feeling quite as fresh as Lyon, limping into the media room at Brookvale with ice packs attached to his bicep, knee and hamstring following another solid display at halfback.

The 23-year-old, who played for City against Country in Port Macquarie on Friday, said he had never played two games in as many days before, but said the experience he had gained this week had been priceless despite the pain.

"I'm pretty sore ... it was a one-off for me to play two games in two days, but it was good to get the win especially at Brooky but I think I might sleep in the ice bath tonight," Hodkinson said.

"I also got a little whack in the gonads from a Matt Cross swinging arm, he caught me flush, it didn't tickle!

"But it was a great week being up with City even though we were unlucky ... the guys were great as were the coaching staff."

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