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Charge no threat to Hayne's No.1 bid

By Steve Jancetic 06/06/2010 06:34:53 PM Comments (0)

Jarryd Hayne appears set to inherit the NSW No.1 jumper but the Blues' preparations for next week's must-win Origin II are already in disarray due to suspension and injury concerns.

While Blues selectors will name their side for Wednesday week's Suncorp Stadium clash on Monday night, the make-up of the team could be days away from being finalised with Hayne, backrower Luke Lewis and prop Brett White all facing charges from the NRL match review committee.

There are also injury concerns over second-rower Anthony Watmough, who limped off in Sunday's loss to Brisbane with a groin injury, while his Manly teammate Jamie Lyon added to the uncertainty surrounding availabilities by declaring he may yet overcome an ankle injury in time to face Queensland.

Of most concern to Blues selectors is a potential striking charge against Hayne following a headbutt on Melbourne rival Billy Slater on Friday night, with loading for prior offences meaning any charge would result in a ban of at least one week.

Maroons custodian Slater is also in danger of missing Origin II after he retaliated with an elbow to the back of Hayne's head moments after the headbutt.

Blues selectors will ignore the prospect of a ban and shift Hayne from the wing to fullback, with the Parramatta star to then throw himself at the mercy of the judiciary panel on Wednesday night in a bid to clear his name.

Hayne's availability will have massive ramifications on the Blues' formation, with skipper Kurt Gidley to be shifted to the halves alongside the recalled Trent Barrett to accommodate the reigning Dally M player of the year.

All those plans will go out the window if Hayne is found guilty, with Gidley to resume fullback duties and Sydney Roosters playmaker Mitchell Pearce winning a second NSW cap at halfback.

Gidley, who has played his last two games for Newcastle at halfback, said he would be happy to slot in at first receiver for the Blues if Hayne was cleared.

"What I did see of it, it didn't look much," Gidley said of the altercations between Hayne and Slater.

"It happened in the heat of battle and that sort of thing should stay on the field, it would be tough if they were ruled out of Origin for that.

"It's good to get my hands on the ball more (at halfback) and I really enjoyed it, but I guess it is up to the coach and selectors with what they want to do."

Former NSW coach Phil Gould urged selectors not to use Pearce as a stop-gap measure.

"He is an Origin player of the future," Gould told the Nine Network.

"I still think he's being rushed, it was ridiculous to pick him last time they picked him (in 2008) ... but if they pick him, you've got to commit to three years."

The battle for centre positions became murkier on Sunday with Lyon claiming he would visit a specialist on Monday in a bid to be given the all-clear, while incumbent Matt Cooper gave his hopes a boost with two tries in St George Illawarra's win over the Warriors.

The make-up of the forward pack is no more settled either with Lewis's lifting tackle on Newcastle hooker Matt Hilder likely to lead to a charge, as could White's late hit on Fuifui Moimoi in Friday night's spiteful grand final rematch.

Their availability won't impact the chances of Paul Gallen earning a representative recall, with the Cronulla lock understood to have already had his name pencilled in by selectors keen to add some starch to the pack after a lacklustre performance in Origin I.

"I'm not reading into it too much, all the media talk, we will see what happens," Gallen said.

"I think (my form's) been pretty good, it's my job to lead the team around and that's what I've been doing."

Possible NSW side: Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris, Michael Jennings, Matt Cooper, Timana Tahu, Trent Barrett, Kurt Gidley (capt), Michael Weyman, Michael Ennis, Josh Perry, Ben Creagh, Anthony Watmough, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Luke Lewis, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Jason King, Trent Waterhouse.

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