Shake-up on the cards as Blues plot to stop rot

1. Josh Dugan

Enjoys great support and added a new dimension to St George Illawarra when he returned from injury. However, Jarryd Hayne, who is battling an AC joint problem, has been outstanding at fullback for Parramatta. His defensive effort to stop the Roosters' Sonny Bill Williams on the try line is just what the Blues need.

Bradley Clyde says: He's started the season well but faces stiff opposition from Brett Stewart. The fact Dugan was picked for Country before he pulled out with an ankle injury suggests he's being seriously considered but I'd have Stewart in the sky blue - besides being a great player, he's a class finisher.

Fullback contenders: Brett Stewart, Jarryd Hayne, Matt Moylan, David Mead

Verdict: Gone

2. Brett Morris

An automatic selection after being named in the Australian Test side on Friday night. His Superman-like effort to score a try for the Dragons against Cronulla earlier this season sums up his commitment and ability. Wing is a hotly contested position and with the likes of William Hopoate hovering, neither flanker can afford an off day.

Bradley Clyde says: Deserves his place. A quality footballer who's much more than ''just'' a winger. Goes out of his way to find the ball and defends strongly. Ticks all the boxes and strikes me as a player who is on top of his game.

Wing contenders: William Hopoate (Parramatta), Daniel Tupou (Roosters), Jorge Tafua (Manly), Michael Gordon (Cronulla), James McManus (Newcastle), Pat Richards (Wests Tigers).

Verdict: Safe

3. Michael Jennings

Battling an ankle injury but was one of the shining lights for the 2013 Blues. His cracking try in the opening Origin match, a result of his power and speed, was an indicator of what he is capable of. Selectors would be loath to break up the Jennings-Josh Morris combination but Jamal Idris would be a contender if needed.

Bradley Clyde says: Blessed with enormous potential; it says a lot that I don't think we've seen the best of him yet. Developing his game well and if he's fit he'll hold his place.

Centre contenders: Jarryd Hayne, William Hopoate, Jamal Idris (Penrith), Jack Wighton (Canberra)

Verdict: Safe if fit.

4. Josh Morris

Forged a strong partnership with Jennings last year and the fact the Kangaroo selectors picked him to replace the injured Hayne over Queensland's Justin Hodges was a huge vote of confidence. Laurie Daley is unlikely to break up a potent combination to accommodate Hayne in the centres.

Bradley Clyde says: His pairing with Jennings was one of the Blues' genuine strengths last year and we'll need to play to that strength this year by getting the ball to the fringes as much as possible.

Verdict: Safe.

5. James McManus

Replaced Hayne in game three but even if the Eels star was picked at fullback, McManus is unlikely to retain his place. Wests Tigers winger Pat Richards, at 32, is being considered, despite missing out on City Origin. It's understood coach Daley was aware of what he offers and a jewel in Richards' crown is his goal kicking and that could be needed if Maloney doesn't play.

Bradley Clyde says: He gives 100 per cent and I'm an advocate for him to play as much representative football as he can but Jarryd Hayne would be my pick. He's the most committed we've ever seen him and it's great to see Hayne excited about playing footy.

Verdict: Gone

6. James Maloney

Laughed when he was introduced on The Footy Show as ''the former NSW five-eighth'' but the top-of-the-table Canterbury's Josh Reynolds is presenting too compelling a case to ignore by starring in his team's gritty wins. Maloney will be handicapped at the selection table if his shoulder injury continues to trouble him.

Bradley Clyde says: NSW would be well advised to retain the incumbent if available. A class act and a player to stick with because he won't let you down; at the very least he gives you a seven out of 10 game. He's growing as a player; he won a grand final last year and seems to be enjoying his footy. His goal kicking is an asset.

Five-eighth contenders: Josh Reynolds, Jarrod Mullen, John Sutton

Verdict: Split decision

7. Mitchell Pearce

Has more critics than Kylie Minogue but the competition Souths' Adam Reynolds applied last year has subsided. After the six years of Origin invested in Pearce, it is unlikely he'll be dropped for Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson or Tyrone Roberts.

Bradley Clyde says: There's no reason not to go with Mitchell again. He's still young and, even though he's played for NSW and won a premiership, he's still learning how to navigate his team towards winning games, how to lead teams and to be be a dominant No.7. His partnership with Maloney has added an extra dimension to his game.

Halfback contenders: Adam Reynolds (Souths), Tyrone Roberts (Newcastle), Trent Hodkinson (Canterbury).

Verdict: Safe.

8. Aaron Woods

Has stood up to be counted for the Wests Tigers and taken the fight to Sam Burgess, Jason King and any other big name that crossed his path. Should be sent out to unleash the same hell at Suncorp Stadium. A long-term Blues player but prop is one of the most fiercely contested positions in NSW.

Bradley Clyde says: I would start with him. He has done enough to show he is a player who loves such a challenge. There's an element of risk in starting Woods but the dividends could be great. I thought in games one and three last year all our front-rowers were outstanding; they provided go-forward and, along with our centres, remain our team's strengths.

Prop contenders: Aiden Tolman (Canterbury), Andrew Fifita (Cronulla), Trent Merrin (St George Illawarra).

Verdict: Safe.

9. Robbie Farah

Will be ruled out because of his elbow injury and while there's a push for Parramatta's Nathan Peats, Bulldogs rake Michael Ennis should get the nod because of his experience and the fact he's helping to steer the premiership's pacesetters around with aplomb.

Bradley Clyde says: I wouldn't take the punt on him for game one. I'd back Michael Ennis - he offers leadership and has Origin experience. You wouldn't lose too much but Farah's elbow injury hurts. It was exciting to watch him play before he was injured because he was outstanding - great leadership and definitely playing for his team in the opening rounds.

Hooker contenders: Nathan Peats (Parramatta), Michael Ennis (Canterbury)

Verdict: Gone.

10: James Tamou

A mainstay of the NSW pack. He adds a physical presence and his intimate knowledge of Maroons prop Matt Scott through their up-front partnership at the Cowboys is an advantage.

Bradley Clyde says: I'd use Tamou off the bench and start with Paul Gallen at prop. Gallen has to play, he can grind out 80 quality minutes and is the leader. While ''Gal'' played at lock for Australia on Friday, you also want Greg Bird in the team and he serves you best in the No.13. Tamou will be a quality impact player.

Verdict: Safe but opinion divided.

11. Ryan Hoffman

Deserves the title as a big-game player. His offloads have been the catalyst for some exciting moments for the Blues and his non-stop approach is tailor-made for the interstate game.

Bradley Clyde says: Has a high work-rate but it's all quality, which is pretty rare. A tremendous footballer who always provides good offloads. Deserves to be a part of Laurie's team.

Second-row contenders: Beau Scott (Newcastle), Tariq Sims (North Queensland)

Verdict: Safe.

12. Luke Lewis

The seemingly unstoppable Lewis has been sidelined by a shoulder injury he suffered five months ago and while he's expected to return for next Monday night's Sharks match he won't make game one. Greg Bird could be shifted to second row to allow Paul Gallen to bash out 80 minutes in his natural position at lock.

Bradley Clyde says: A devastating loss for the opening game because of his shoulder injury. I'm a big Luke Lewis fan and thought he had one of his best series last year. I'd like to see him in the NSW team for game two because he offers so much.

Verdict: Gone.

13. Greg Bird

NSW need his passion and aggression but Lewis' injury could allow for Gallen to play in the position where he's starred for Cronulla and Australia if Bird moves to No.12. NSW have enough battering rams with Woods, Anthony Watmough and Fifita.

Bradley Clyde says: My initial thought was could Bird play No.9 but it's a specialist position. A true Origin player; a great competitor. I think that, like Gallen, Bird would be wasted on the bench.

Lock contenders: Wade Graham (Cronulla), Adam Docker (Penrith).

Verdict: Safe but shifted.

INTERCHANGE

14. Andrew Fifita

Paid a high price for the contractual dramas with Canterbury that demanded his attention when he was dropped from the Australia team. It was a well-timed wake-up call, which should allow for Fifita to be at his destructive best for NSW.

Bradley Clyde says: He's an athlete and I think the key to him playing his best footy is giving him a simple role to play. Don't clutter his thoughts with strategy, make the ball easy for him to find and he could be our best player.

Verdict: Safe.

15.Trent Merrin

The workhorse of the St George Illawarra pack, he adds versatility by being able to capably pack down at either prop or second row. Has played his part to ensure his vow to the Dragons pack of 2014 wouldn't be monstered.

Bradley Clyde says: He's needed to fill Luke Lewis' role but if Lewis was available, I'd have been tempted not to pick Merrin. I'd have gone with a back utility who could also play in the forwards.

Verdict: Safe.

Boyd Cordner

Picked to start for Australia against New Zealand, even though the 21-year-old admitted he hadn't been satisfied with his form for the Roosters. Cordner should be guaranteed selection after cutting his teeth last year. He's one of the great hopes for the Blues' future.

Bradley Clyde says: Developing strongly but hasn't done enough to start for the Blues just yet. He's been picked for Australia for a reason but I put him in a similar box to Woods in that, while there's some risk around his selection, they've played enough first grade and rep football to appreciate the step up and physical application required. I think the risk is well worth the reward.

Verdict: Safe.

17. Anthony Watmough

Provides the Blues with the ''madman'' quality that Origin was built on. Watmough is a player prepared to sacrifice himself regardless of the score and he has opposing players looking for him, a player who instils confidence in which ever team he runs out for.

Bradley Clyde says: An incredible player, his work-rate and application is all quality. We all have our high expectations for him but Watmough has proven over the years that teams are stronger for his presence.

Verdict: Safe

The story Shake-up on the cards as Blues plot to stop rot first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop