NSW Origin No.7 up for grabs: Daley - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NSW Origin No.7 up for grabs: Daley

By Todd Balym 10/05/2007 06:54:32 PM Comments (0)

NSW selector Laurie Daley has dangled a big blue carrot in front of aspiring halfbacks, declaring the Origin job is there for the taking.

Daley said the No.7 jersey was one of the few positions still up for grabs in the NSW side ahead of the final chance to impress selectors this weekend.

The four bench spots and who plays where in the outside backs also remain undecided, but the choice of halfback is the biggest headache facing selectors with no standout option.

Blues selectors will keep a close eye on Cronulla's Brett Kimmorley, Penrith's Craig Gower, Manly's Matt Orford and Newcastle's Jarrod Mullen this weekend as the four vie for selection.

Fellow Knight Kurt Gidley and Wests Tigers' Robbie Farah could also be considered for the role, but are most likely fighting it out for the utility bench spot.

Daley said the halfback job was on the line this weekend and selectors were waiting for someone to put forward a compelling case.

"In all honesty it is, we have still not decided which way we are going to go," said Daley.

"Obviously last impressions will certainly count. We know the players are there. We've just got to make sure we pick the right one.

"I don't think that we need to gamble, I think we just need to pick the best possible halfback.

"I'm sure along with the other three selectors we'll make a decision on who we think would best fit into the dynamic of the football team and who we think will get the job done."

Daley said picking the halfback was the most important decision selectors will face on Tuesday, but gave no indication which way they were leaning.

Kimmorley and Gower have both done the job before, Orford has been banging on the door for a while and Mullen is a star of the future.

It is highly unlikely Farah or Gidley would be handed the hottest seat in league, although Farah's prospects rose slightly when Newcastle hooker Danny Buderus left training early and was later seen icing both ankles.

"I think that every time we pick a NSW side it's pretty difficult choices to be made because we have a lot of good players running around," said Daley.

"The number seven, you have to get that right because basically that's the hub of the team, that's where everything starts.

"You can have your forward pack and you can have your outside men but you need a number seven to really be able to take the initiative and take the team around the paddock."

Kimmorley and Orford will press their claims on Friday - Kimmorley against a Darren Lockyer-led Brisbane and Orford in need of a man-of-the-match game against Parramatta.

Mullen has trained strongly the last two days and appears on track to overcome his calf tendonitis for a final crack against the Warriors on Saturday.

At just 20 he is already highly regarded by selectors and Daley said his age wouldn't count against him at the selection table, adding "if you're good enough, you're old enough".

Gower, meanwhile, has the best opportunity of all to shine up against Queensland half Johnathan Thurston in front of Blues coach Graham Murray on Saturday night in Townsville.

But Sydney Roosters coach Chris Anderson said the halfback choice was a closed case, with Kimmorley first and "daylight second".

A close friend of Kimmorley's, he said the Sharks playmaker's experience and club form has him head and shoulders above the rest and should be given first crack.

"He is a quality player, tough and competitive and experienced now and won't be overawed by the situation," said Anderson.

Johns later told Channel Nine's Footy Show that he believes Kimmorley should wear the No.7 jersey this Origin series.

"I think probably Noddy (Kimmorley)," Johns said when asked who he'd have at halfback.

"I think whoever plays halfback this series is going to have a bit of pressure on them and Noddy has been there before.

"With his kicking game on the back of that go forward the Blues will have a strong forward pack.

"I think he will play well there."

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