Henry backs forward pair for NSW - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Henry backs forward pair for NSW

By Laine Clark 28/05/2010 06:10:35 PM Comments (0)

He's a passionate Queenslander, but that hasn't stopped North Queensland coach Neil Henry offering some helpful advice to rivals NSW.

Going into Saturday's NRL clash against Manly at Townsville, Henry believes Cowboys backrow pair Willie Mason and Luke O'Donnell should come into NSW consideration for game two of this year's State of Origin series.

Despite being the assistant coach to Maroons mastermind Mal Meninga during their past four Origin series wins, Henry feels Mason and O'Donnell would give the Blues pack something different for their must-win June 16 match at Suncorp Stadium.

And he urged the pair to start their campaign for selection with a barnstorming display against the Sea Eagles this weekend.

"The challenge is with Luke and Mase to turn up and play some commanding football over the next couple of weeks and they might be a chance of getting in that side," he said.

"They offer something a bit different to the (NSW) players who were picked (in game one).

"Our team form hasn't been very good, but if they (NSW selectors) look beyond that ... I am sure they (Mason, O'Donnell) will come into consideration."

Henry has opted out of his assistant's role with the Maroons this season and he admitted it was a strange scenario watching Queensland's 28-24 win in Sydney on Wednesday from the couch.

"I could relax a bit, certainly the last four years I haven't been able to have a break," he said.

"But certainly I miss that arena. Every time you are involved in Origin it is an event, each match in itself there was a big build-up.

"It is a different perspective sitting at home watching it with the family but it was great to see the boys get the result."

While bolstered by the return of Queensland trio Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Willie Tonga, the third-last Cowboys (3-7 record) will be further buoyed by Matt Bowen's claim on Friday - he is yet to hit top gear.

Bowen did not appear to have lost his spark when he capped a triumphant return from injury with a runaway try on May 11 to spark an upset win over the Roosters - the last time the Cowboys have tasted victory.

But the livewire No.1 admitted on Friday there was plenty of improvement left.

"I think I lost a fair bit of speed, that's the thing I am working on now," Bowen said.

"I can get to top speed but I can't hold it.

"It's been challenging. It will take time to do but hopefully it won't take that long."

The Cowboys will also fancy their chances after Manly lost NSW prop Josh Perry (head knock) and Kiwi international Kieran Foran (hamstring) to injury.

Chris Bailey will take over the No.6 jumper from Foran while Matt Cross is tipped to start in the front row with 18th man Jamie Buhrer set for the bench.

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