NSW skipper Paul Gallen has declared Wade Graham ready for his State of Origin debut after the Cronulla back-rower starred in the Sharks’ NRL win over Canterbury.
Graham ran for 117m from 15 runs, made 29 tackles and laid on a crucial second-half try for Ben Barba as ladder leaders Cronulla snared their ninth successive win, 20-18 over the Dogs at ANZ Stadium on Monday night.
With Boyd Cordner ruled out of the Blues side for Origin II due to a foot injury, Gallen said Graham was an obvious fit for the Blues for their must-win Suncorp Stadium clash on June 22.
“You could say Wade was unlucky not to be there in the first place,” Gallen said.
“But he had Boyd Cordner, who got our man of the match (for game one), in front of him. But Boyd won’t be there and Wade is ready there is no doubt about it.
“The good thing going in his favour is, he is a genuine left edge like Boyd is. I have no doubt he can do the job if (Blues coach) Laurie (Daley) goes that way.”
Sharks centre Jack Bird also pressed his claims for the utility spot on the Blues bench for game two that was controversially and ineffectively filled by Dylan Walker in game one.
Bird threw a one-handed offload despite the attention of two Dogs defenders for a first half try to Valentine Holmes and was strong throughout for the Sharks in attack and defence in an effort that impressed Sharks coach Shane Flanagan.
“I thought Jack was great, the way he set up one of those tries for Val, pushed off an Origin centre (Josh Morris) there and put him away,” Flanagan said.
“Wade was a solid as ever, he came up with a great pass for Benny Barba (to score) they are ready if Laurie and the boys need them.”
Bird said he was remaining patient about his Origin chances.
“”I came up against Josh who obviously played Game One and if ‘Loz’ (Daley) sticks with him then good luck to them,” he said.
“If I don’t get it then I’ll just keep playing my best football for Cronulla and try and get there one day.”