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Combination the key for Mullen

Russell Jackson 03/05/2011 01:17:51 PM Comments (0)

Country Origin coach Laurie Daley believes his halfback Jarrod Mullen has a distinct advantage over his City No.7 rival Mitchell Pearce when it comes to NSW State of Origin selection.

The pair will go at it in Friday night's annual NSW City-Country clash in Albury with the Blues No.7 jumper up for grabs.

Newcastle's Mullen is teaming up with St George Illawarra five-eighth Jamie Soward, who appears all but assured of a spot in the NSW team to be announced on May 16.

Pearce plays alongside Kris Keating, who would be a major surprise if selected for State of Origin game one against Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on May 25.

"That's the big thing in their favour, particularly Jarrod's ... the fact there's the opportunity to play well together. That can only enhance their position if they do combine well," Daley said.

"That's the challenge for them and that's the challenge for me to make that happen.

"It's an exciting time for us and everyone involved with Origin spots up for grabs and these two blokes are very exciting attacking players.

"There's no doubt a good combination between these two on Friday will help their cause."

Mullen is well aware of the importance of combining well with Soward and is looking forward to working with him again.

"I played with Sowie two years ago in City-Country in Orange but he came off the bench and didn't get that much time," Mullen said.

"Hopefully we get a good 80 minutes together and show what we can offer the state selectors.

"A week's a long time in footy and we'll have a few sessions together to get our combination right.

"We'll just aim to keep our game pretty simple and that will make it easier for all the boys."

Mullen said new Blues coach Ricky Stuart had made it clear the oft-maligned City-Country clash would be a true Origin trial.

"Obviously there's a couple of certainties who will come from the Aussie side but there are still plenty of spots up for grabs and that's a great thing for this game," Mullen said.

"Ricky came out and said (Paul) Gallen and (Kurt) Gidley were the only two certainties and the rest of us are battling for positions."

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