NSW names six Origin bolters
Blues coach Brad Fittler has named six bolters to join his final 27-man squad for the 2020
State of Origin series in November.
Fittler will name an extended squad ahead of the series opener at the Adelaide Oval on November 4 - and the wily coach is already plotting some surprising moves.
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With doubt surrounding which position Fittler will pick for Raiders playmaker Jack Wighton and question marks surrounding the fitness of Sea Eagles star Tom Trbojevic, Fittler has revealed his biggest selection dilemma is in the centres.
Wighton and Trbojevic got the job done for NSW in 2019 after they replaced Latrell Mitchell and Josh Morris following Queensland's series-opening win last year.
Fittler says loyalty, form and fitness will play a big part in his deliberations in coming weeks but he's already got one eye on finding the next player up should Trbojevic or Wighton be unavailable.
Speaking to Wide World of Sports Radio, Fittler identified six young players that have already caught his eye as potential Origin bolters this year.
Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen, Dragons centre Zac Lomax, Knights centre Bradman Best, Sharks centre Jesse Ramien, Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs and Souths winger Campbell Graham have all been given a public call-out by Fittler as he builds pressure on the incumbents to hold onto their spots.
"He's (Papenhuyzen) been outstanding," Fittler said.
"There are some young blokes, Zac Lomax, Campbell Graham, Bradman Best before he went away.
"Jesse Ramien's last couple of weeks have been great.
"There's been some really good up and comers, especially centres and wingers - Kotoni Staggs has been outstanding.
"There's plenty of competition coming through."
All those bolters are likely being considered for the centres with James Tedesco and Trbojevic seen as the clear first and second options to wear the No. 1 jumper for the Blues if healthy.
Fittler says he will be keeping a close eye on Trbojevic's recovery from a niggling hamstring complaint.
"The doctor at Manly is the doctor for our State of Origin team," Fittler said in relation to Trbojevic's availability.
"He's going to be the best gauge.
"If Tom comes back fit and healthy then he would be a really good chance of coming back into the squad.
"There's a squad of 27, so without a doubt, he would make the 27."
Fittler earlier this week said on The Sunday Footy Show: "He's a very good player Tom, he is one of the best in the game, so if he is fit and healthy, he gets a start.
"We have a 27-man squad, so a lot will be determined over the next six weeks as well.
"See how he goes over the next two games.
"Given the doctor situation, we'll have a good idea of how Tom is.
"We lean on a lot of the clubs and ask about their players and where they're at at the moment.
"The strain and the stresses coming from the protocols and how that's affecting them, that would bring injuries itself, not having the freedoms you're normally used to."
After more than two months on the sidelines, Trbojevic is expected to make his NRL return when the Manly Sea Eagles host the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday afternoon.
Fittler has an expanded 27-player at his disposal this year because of Origin's historic move to November as a three-week event played over consecutive Wednesdays at the conclusion of the 2020 NRL finals series.
With Origin I moving to South Australia for the first time on November 4, the series heads to Sydney for Game 2 on November 11 before Suncorp Stadium hosts Game 3 on November 18.
Originally published as NSW names six Origin bolters