IT’S A BIG RUGBY LEAGUE REPRESENTATIVE ROUND FOR …
* JAMES MALONEY – Impressive over the opening two months of the NRL season, he’s the only genuine NSW Origin halves contender figuring this weekend. The current favourite for the Blues No.6 jersey, a strong showing for Country could land him back in the Origin arena for the first time since 2013.
* BRYCE CARTWRIGHT – The one-handed flick and dangerous fend have put his name up in lights, but does Cartwright have what it takes to make it in the representative arena? The under-strength City-Country game is unlikely to offer any real answer, but a big game in Tamworth could prove to hard to resist for Laurie Daley.
* CITY-COUNTRY – Can this really count as a representative fixture anymore? No matter how important this match is for bush footy, with just two players with Origin experience playing, it can no longer be considered a NSW Origin trial. If this match is to survive in the long-term, it needs another entertaining affair like the one that saw Country prevail 34-22 last year.
* GREG INGLIS – Talk surrounding his lack of fitness and form keeps getting louder, but Inglis is always at his best in the representative arena. A big performance for the Kangaroos might silence his critics, but it will leave Souths fans wondering when he’ll be back to his best in the red-and-green.
* STEPHEN KEARNEY – New Zealand have beaten Australia in their past three outings, but none have come without the likes of Ben Matulino and Manu Vatuvei and Kieran Foran, who are all unavailable for Friday night’s game. If Kearney’s No.1-ranked team are able to knock off the mighty Australians with these kinds of distractions, it could make him the greatest Kiwi coach of all-time.