Doors are still open
Penrith are playing Parramatta in the first game of the round on Thursday night. We’ll have a fair idea of what we’re doing ahead of that game, but, still, the timing could be handy.
Maloney won’t play because he has accepted a one-match suspension out of the round just gone, but if we want to have another look at Cleary it’s better to do that early than to have to wait right through until Sunday.
All doors are still open at this stage. Last year, for Origin I, there were a few positions we sat on until the end of the round. It just depends how we’re thinking.
Penrith have lost six games in a row, but, individually, Maloney and Cleary are not going nearly as badly as a lot of people think.
Apart from the halves, right centre, right wing and a couple of bench spots are the positions we’ve got to make decisions on.
James Roberts was dropped at Brisbane and hasn’t played reserve grade, so he hasn’t played any footy at all in the last couple of weeks. That makes it very difficult for him to keep his spot at centre in the NSW team.
Jack Bird had his nose in front for that spot before he went down injured and there’s not a lot of others to pick from, so it was pleasing when we heard Josh Morris had made himself available. We hadn’t discussed Morris because he had basically retired from rep footy, but he’s in the mix now.
Another player I feel the selectors need to discuss as a possibility for that position is Nick Cotric from Canberra.
Cotric’s best known as a winger in first grade, but he’s played plenty of centre and fullback in the past and he spent time in the NSW Origin system as 18th man last year.
He’s spent a lot of time on the left side since coming into first grade, but he’s comfortable on the right side as well and, with the Raiders having injury problems, he was switched over to the right wing recently.
Then against the Rabbitohs on the weekend he was moved into right centre and did some good things. He’s big and strong and he’s certainly someone we should talk about for that spot.
Cotric was obviously close to making the side on the wing last year and if missed out at centre he’d be a chance for wing again, with Tom Trbojevic out injured. But Blake Ferguson is obviously a major contender for that vacant wing spot as well.
Angus Crichton, Payne Haas, Matt Lodge, Tariq Sims, Cameron Murray, and Victor Radley are among those in the running for bench forward spots. Jack De Belin’s unavailability opens up one of the spots there.
Tyrone Peachey’s still in the discussion for the bench utility spot, even though the Titans haven’t been going great.
John Asiata from the Cowboys is a consideration there as well. He can play as a middle forward or at five-eighth. He’s a pretty clever player.
The starting forward pack is shaping up very well. David Klemmer, Damien Cook, Paul Vaughan, Boyd Cordner, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic are all playing good footy and it will be hard to shift any of them.
It’s hard to say how much weight different things carry when you’re picking a team. Incumbency counts, form counts, combinations count.
The percentages can change according to the particular player you’re looking at, so there are a few things to discuss and consider.
If a player hasn’t been in his best form but he’s done the job at this level and you’re convinced he can do it again, then that becomes the main consideration.
There’s no golden rule when it comes to the guidelines you use to pick the team. The only golden rule is to get it right.
More about: Adam Reynolds | Andrew Johns | Angus Crichton | Boyd Cordner | Brad Fittler | Brisbane Broncos | Cody Walker | Damien Cook | Danny Buderus | David Klemmer | Gold Coast Titans | Jack de Belin | Jake Trbojevic | James Maloney | Luke Keary | Nathan Cleary | North Queensland Cowboys | Parramatta Eels | Paul Vaughan | Payne Haas | Penrith Panthers | Queensland Maroons | South Sydney Rabbitohs | State of Origin | Tyrone Peachey | Tyson Frizell | Wayne Bennett