Blues hopefuls told it's all or nothing - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blues hopefuls told it's all or nothing

David Beniuk and Russell Jackson 02/05/2011 06:02:35 PM Comments (0)

City and Country Origin stars have been told to rip into a genuine NSW Rugby League selection trial on Friday night, with a host of positions still up for grabs ahead of the series against Queensland.

Blues coach Ricky Stuart will travel to Albury this week to watch his State of Origin hopefuls first-hand and, although he has said the make-up of the side is taking shape in his mind, it appears he is still open to being persuaded.

Fullback, one wing position, left centre, front-row, hooker and the bench all have big question marks over them and, as City and Country players assembled on Monday, they were under no illusions as to what they were playing for.

"That's what they said to us .... that it's a genuine trial and there's plenty of positions up for grabs," City halfback Mitchell Pearce told reporters.

"All the boys will be really hungry to stamp their claim."

Jarryd Hayne's surprise exclusion from the Test side showed how few certainties there are and his developing rivalry with Canberra star Josh Dugan will take on bigger than expected proportions.

"I think I've proven myself at the next level," said Dugan, who was man of the match in last year's City-Country match.

"I played for Country last year and then in the All-Stars game, so I think I'm ready and I know a big game Friday will help my cause.

"This game is a real stepping-stone for Origin but I can't think too much about it being just me against ... (Hayne)."

If they miss out on the No.1 jersey, Hayne or Dugan could find themselves on the right wing - with Test rep Brett Morris favourite to be on the left - although Country pair Akuila Uate and Michael Gordon could also be considered.

Mark Gasnier appears certain to grab the right centre spot, calf muscle permitting, while Michael Jennings and Josh Morris will battle it out for the left centre spot.

That leaves Test benchman Jamal Idris, who plays on the right, likely to play a similar interchange utility role for NSW.

In the front row, Kade Snowden appears a certainty after his call-up to the Kangaroos, with Tim Mannah, Keith Galloway, Aiden Tolman, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Trent Merrin front-runners in the hunt to be the other three props in the Blues 17.

"I think Keith's been ready for a couple of years," City and Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah said of Galloway.

" ... He's probably unlucky not to be playing (for Australia) up on the Gold Coast."

Kurt Gidley's shoulder injury, which will sideline him for 4-5 weeks, has opened up the bench utility spot.

Stuart will need to decide whether Dean Young's limited training regime can be risked as starting hooker, while arch rival No.9s Michael Ennis and Robbie Farah could find themselves in the same squad if Young is overlooked.

"I'd be happy to get picked anywhere, I'm not too worried where I'm picked," Farah said.

"It would be nice to play again."

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