Canterbury coach Des Hasler has joined the chorus of praise for Cronulla back-rower Wade Graham as he continues his push for a NSW Origin jersey.
With Boyd Cordner (foot) sidelined for Origin II, Bryce Cartwright and Tyson Frizell lead the field for his spot in the Blues line up but Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has led the calls for Graham to earn his debut.
The Sharks will meet Canterbury at ANZ Stadium on Monday night in what shapes as a battle of two of the most intimidating packs in the competition and Graham will have a chance to prove his mettle against Blues forwards Josh Jackson and David Klemmer.
“They’ve got a good mix, they’ve got some go-forward and they’ve got some great individuals who can create some second phase footy with offloads – (Andrew) Fifita and (Paul) Gallen,” Hasler said.
“And I think Wade Graham has really been an unsung hero. I’m sure not to his teammates but I think he’s been in great form. He’s been a big reason for where they are at the moment.”
Graham has averaged 155 metres per game, ranking him sixth on the list of metres gained by forwards this NRL season.
He sits just behind teammates Gallen (average 158m) and Fifita (157m), illustrating his importance to the Sharks, who went into round 13 at the top of the table.
Hasler confirmed his Origin contingent of Jackson, Klemmer and Josh Morris would back up after Wednesday’s Origin I against the Sharks.
Meanwhile, Hasler said he had not been contacted by the NRL after he was left seeing red by Morris’ 11th hour withdrawal from their clash with Canberra last week.
After Morris was called in to replace the injured Josh Dugan in Blues camp, the Dogs were left scrambling for a replacement and rookie Reimis Smith had to make a mercy dash to the nation’s capital to play his second game in two days.