The battle for the NSW State of Origin captaincy is far from a one-horse race, with Blues coach Laurie Daley declaring Boyd Cordner a serious option to replace the retired Paul Gallen.
Blues prop Aaron Woods is considered the front-runner to fill the role after appearing at the turning of the first sod at the Blues’ new spiritual home in Homebush last month.
However, the Wests Tigers skipper is unlikely to be an automatic selection, with Sydney Roosters vice-captain Cordner among a host of candidates to lead the Blues in 2017.
“(Cordner is) a genuine contender. It’s a big decision that we have to make so we have to make sure that we get the right person,” Daley said at a NSW Indigenous camp on Wednesday.
“But there’s a number of guys that can do it. Boyd certainly has experience in doing it at the Roosters, Woods’s done it at the Tigers, (Josh Jackson’s) got great leadership qualities as well.
“There’s a couple of other guys there, (Matt) Moylan’s a captain of a club side. Wade Graham’s another one that leads his team. It will be a big decision and one we’ll take our time on and hopefully the guy that is selected is there for a few years to come.”
The Blues coach said he will also be a keen observer of the Kangaroos’ upcoming Four Nations tour in England, for which 12 eligible Blues players have been included in the squad.
Daley admitted he had already been impressed with the performances of the uncapped Shannon Boyd and dropped forward Trent Merrin in last week’s win over New Zealand.
“From a NSW point of view, obviously Shannon Boyd and Trent Merrin played well in the game last weekend, so that’s good to see,” he said.
“For 12 of our guys to go away on a tour, they get valuable experience. Jakey Trbojevic as well got a call-up. For us that’s exciting because the more guys that get exposed and play at that level, and see how the Australian team goes about it, it’ll only be beneficial for us.”
Daley said Canberra front-rower Boyd is part of a larger group of young emerging props placing pressure on incumbents Woods, James Tamou, David Klemmer and Andrew Fifita.
Fifita was last month controversially omitted from the Kangaroos team for failing to meet off-field behaviours expected of Australian representatives.
“(Boyd is) a guy that’s always been on the radar and we’re quite lucky that we’ve got a number of good young up and coming front-rowers,” Daley said.
“You can toss in Junior Paulo, (Reagan) Campbell-Gillard and Ryan James, these type of people who are 24 years of age and playing some really good football. They’re putting pressure on the established guys that are there.”
The Blues are also close to making a call on where the team will base itself during the series next year as their new headquarters get built.