Locky backs Folau for Origin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Locky backs Folau for Origin

By Wayne Heming 15/05/2010 11:33:57 AM Comments (0)

A diplomatic Darren Lockyer stopped short of telling selectors to pick Israel Folau in Queensland's 17-man Origin squad to be revealed on Tuesday.

But after witnessing the giant 21 year-old smash his way to two first half tries as Brisbane dismissed Gold Coast Titans 28-6 in front of 40,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, Lockyer can't see him being ignored.

Folau still hasn't declared if he's staying in rugby league or defecting to rugby union of AFL, creating debate about his right to be selected in Queensland's Origin team if he is leaving the code.

The youngster was overlooked for Australia in the one-off Test against New Zealand earlier this month, although national selectors claimed that was because his form didn't warrant selection.

If they were picking a Test side now, he would be difficult to ignore after scoring four tries in the past two weeks against Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

Melbourne's Greg Inglis has one Origin centre spot sewn up and North Queensland's Willie Tonga and Warriors backline utility Brent Tate are in the mix with Folau for the other.

Darius Boyd will occupy one wing for Queensland, while Folau could also be considered for the other flank, where dual international Lote Tuqiri is the other leading candidate.

After Folau's latest two try haul against the Titans, Lockyer played a straight bat when asked if he expected Folau to be one of his Origin team mates next week.

"Yeah, I think he'll be there," smiled Lockyer who would have a hot line to Queensland selectors.

"Izzy's been a handful lately.

"You can give him the football and if there's nothing happening, he'll create something."

Maroons coach Mal Meninga has softened his stance considerably on Folau after initially being opposed to his Origin selection if he was defecting from rugby league.

Queensland selectors will receive full medical updates on injury worries Johnathan Thurston (shoulder) and hooker Cameron Smith (elbow) before rubber stamping their 17 players to tackle the Blues at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday week.

They are concerned about gambling on any player given the importance of grabbing a 1-0 lead with two matches in Sydney this series, where they are attempting to win their fifth in a row.

Meanwhile Lockyer, who's expecting NSW to name veteran halfback Brett Kimmorley and fiery Titan Greg Bird in the halves, is opposed to St George Illawarra being able to pick up representative centre Mark Gasnier for a reported $50,000 for the rest of 2010.

"I want to see Mark Gasnier back in rugby league. But not like this," wrote Lockyer in his weekly News Limited column on Saturday.

Lockyer said Gasnier should be welcomed back to rugby league with "open arms".

"I just think it's unfair if he is registered by the NRL as a St George Illawarra player on $50,000 for the rest of the season, as has been proposed in media stories this week," he wrote.

"If he wants to play in the NRL this season, let it be with a club which has room in the salary cap reflecting the quality of a player such as him giving service for more than half a season."

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