Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has made the case for Wade Graham to receive a NSW call-up, shrugging off suggestions he wouldn’t be able to handle the State of Origin pressure cooker with the series on the line.
Blues coach Laurie Daley will name his side on Monday for next week’s game two at Suncorp Stadium with the biggest question mark over who will replace injured back-rower Boyd Cordner.
Daley has said Graham, Tyson Frizell and Ryan Hoffman are in the running to fill the gap on the Blues left edge.
He last week spoke effusively of Warriors forward Hoffman’s past exploits in the sky blue jumper, having represented his state 14 times since 2007.
Daley hinted that experience would weigh heavily in his considerations, with the Blues needing to win at Suncorp Stadium to send the series to a decider.
However, Flanagan shrugged off concerns about the 25-year-old Graham’s inexperience at representative level.
“He’ll handle that easy,” Flanagan said on Sunday.
“He’s a quality player, he’s been around for a long time, he made his debut when he was 18. He’s ready to go if Laurie needs him.”
Ahead of the Sharks’ blockbuster with North Queensland on Monday, Flanagan made the case for Jack Bird to be selected in the contentious NSW utility position.
“He’s an Origin player of the future,” Flanagan said of Bird.
“If Laurie needs him off the bench, I think he’ll do a good job there.
“I think he’s going to be an Origin player for a long, long time. When that period starts, I’m not quite sure.”