Youngsters Tepai Moeroa, James Roberts and Luke Keary have all emerged as genuine State of Origin bolters for NSW six weeks out from the series start according to Blues assistant coach Brad Fittler.
Parramatta back-rower Moeroa, Gold Coast flyer Roberts and South Sydney playmaker Keary have all shown they have what it takes to make it in league’s toughest arena, says the NSW great.
With some NSW incumbents from their drought-breaking series win last year struggling for form Fittler, who played 31 Origin matches for NSW, believes the trio could be in line for Origin debuts in the opening game of 2015 in Sydney on May 27.
If teenage tearaway Moeroa does earn a call-up it will come after less than 20 NRL games.
“You look at the way he plays, he is just tough,” Fittler told AAP.
“He runs hard, he tackles hard, he has shown he has the attributes to make it in Origin for sure.
“Parramatta have lost a couple of matches, that won’t help him but it’s two weeks out from City/Country and six weeks out from Origin so he has time to make that up.”
Roberts looks to have finally found his feet with the Titans after stints with Souths and Penrith were blighted by off-field dramas. With Brett Morris set to miss at least Origin I with a hamstring injury, Roberts could be a surprise selection in Laurie Daley’s side.
“James has got that blinding pace and that is such an asset,” Fittler said.
“And he is really starting to come good.”
Keary has been the subject of an Origin tug of war between NSW and Queensland, but under new eligibility laws the Rabbitohs premiership winner is a Blue.
“He has shown he can do it on the big stage,” Fittler said.
“The challenge now is for him to show he can adapt, he can fit alongside and play well with players he doesn’t spend all week training with.
“Adam Reynolds looks to be out for a while and with him sidelined Keary can really show what he has got.”
Incumbent NSW halves Canterbury duo Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds have come under-fire from Andrew Johns for their lack of form at club level.
Speaking on Wednesday at the announcement of City Origin’s partnership with Aboriginal foster care community service provider Kari, Fittler said it was up to Hodkinson and Reynolds to respond to that criticism.
“They have got more than enough time to earn their spot,” the City Origin coach said.
“But the same goes for those young guys too, they have the opportunity to really push their case over the coming weeks, to show form, show they want to play for NSW.
City meets Country on May 3 in Wagga Wagga.