Laurie Daley
Laurie Daley Mark Dadswell / Getty Images

Coach Daley thinks Hoffman's a terrific pick for Blues

NEW South Wales coach Laurie Daley has solved another part of his Origin puzzle, but still has as many as three pieces to find ahead of the opening game of the 2013 series in Sydney on June 5.

The weekend's representative games confirmed Melbourne Storm back-rower Ryan Hoffman would be back in a Blues jumper for the first time since game three of the 2008 series.

Hoffman was outstanding for City in the 18-12 loss to Country in Coffs Harbour, NSW coach Laurie Daley saying he had been impressed with the 29-year-old's form for Melbourne and his second-half effort in the Origin trial.

"Ryan was very good, had some strong carries and is also playing well for his club," Daley said.

City coach Trent Barrett, who is one of Daley's assistants in the Blues camp, was also full of praise for the Storm premiership player.

"Ryan Hoffman was really, really good. I thought he was terrific. He's a very good player and was everywhere in the second half," Barrett said.

Hoffman would be a logical replacement for Knights second-rower Beau Scott if he fails to recover from a groin injury suffered in round three.

If Scott does recover in time to retain his place from game three last year, Hoffman would still come in for the hopelessly underperforming Bulldogs back-rower Tony Williams.

The two backs with question marks over their places are winger Brett Morris and five-eighth Todd Carney.

Morris almost cost Australia two tries against New Zealand in Friday night's Anzac Test in Canberra by dropping two bombs on his own try line - he also spilt an attacking kick with the try line beckoning.

Despite those errors, Morris is likely to retain his place ahead of Knight's winger Akuila Uate who played strongly for Country.

If Daley decides not to stick with Carney, he could turn to either in-form Rooster James Moloney who also had a good game for Country in Coffs Harbour, or switch Greg Bird from the back row and leave Carney out.

The other piece of the puzzle for Daley is whether to stick with Penrith prop Tim Grant.

The 25-year-old was solid without being outstanding in his two games in last year's series, but was dropped to the bench for the Panthers earlier this season after a lucklustre start.

He was reinstated for the Knights game in round six and responded by clocking up 179 metres and making 39 tackles.

If Grant misses out for NSW, as many as six props will come into calculations - Willie Mason, Tim Mannah, Ryan James, Andrew Fifita, Trent Merrin and Tariq Sims.