Make yourself a 10-year Origin star: Baz - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Make yourself a 10-year Origin star: Baz

David Beniuk 22/05/2011 06:30:58 PM Comments (0)

NSW's new breed can stake claims to be 10-year State of Origin players in Wednesday night's series opening clash with Queensland, says former Blues captain Trent Barrett.

NSW's most recent ex-skipper Barrett and Blues coach Ricky Stuart have been ramming home the message that an opportunity will exist at Suncorp Stadium for players to stamp themselves as true Origin combatants.

The former St George Illawarra and Cronulla star finished his Origin career as his state's captain last year and he says few players in key positions over the lean past five years have put their hands up.

"It is a new era," Barrett told reporters on Sunday. "We've got a pretty young team really.

"It's an opportunity for them to stay together for a long time, particularly in our halves and our fullback, our front row.

"It's a huge chance for them to prove that they can play at this level and be there for a long time."

Stuart has talked repeatedly about finding a core of Origin-ready players in this series, ever since he became the Blues' full-time boss.

Barrett, who is currently an assistant coach with the side, has thrown out the challenge to hooker Michael Ennis, halves Mitchell Pearce and Jamie Soward and fullback Josh Dugan to match the Maroons' long-serving "spine" and make names for themselves on the game's most testing stage.

"You talk about Queensland's spine," Barrett said.

"Here's a chance for Ennis and Pearce and Soward and Dugan to do the same.

"There's no reason they can't.

"We haven't had anyone stand up in those positions, in the four positions, and put their hand up and say, 'Well, I'm here for 10 years so keep picking me'.

"We've obviously got to keep winning to do it. Now's the chance."

Former Blues master coach Phil Gould called on NSW to build stability at all costs in his Sunday newspaper column, and Barrett said Stuart's famous loyalty to players would help achieve it.

"We've got a good coach who's right behind them," Barrett said.

"One thing with Sticky, he's a very loyal bloke, you do the right thing by him and he knows your attitude's good and you're ripping in, well you have a friend for life."

Stuart's first camp since 2005 had been all about "attitude and grit", the former five-eighth said.

"That's what he's good at, that's what he does and that's why I think this style of series ... it really suits him, he's very intense," Barrett said.

"The players who have been coached by him before and know him were expecting it and love it and the new guys are really responding to it."

The Blues flew to Brisbane late on Sunday afternoon expecting a hostile reception north of the border, where they will continue their preparation.

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