NSW skipper Paul Gallen believes the players that finally wrested back the State of Origin shield for the Blues last year are entitled to have the inside running at the selection table ahead of game one next month.
Series-winning halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds have come under fire from Blues legend Andrew Johns for their lack of NRL form.
But Gallen says the exploits of NSW players last year, when the Blues finally broke Queensland’s eight-year stranglehold on the interstate series, should not be forgotten when coach Laurie Daley sits down to pick his side.
“It’s going to come down to form but certainly those blokes are going to have a shoe in the door because they were there, they did it last year, the selectors and the coach know what they can produce,” Gallen said.
“It was our first win in eight years, they (Hodkinson and Reynolds) are terrific guys, they are terrific players.
“They will be disappointed with their form last weekend, but there is still six weeks to go to Origin, that is plenty of time to turn it around.”
Gallen said Johns had earned the right to make comment on players, but bemoaned NSW’s ability to cannabilise itself.
“I don’t want to bag NSW players, they are my teammates we should be sticking solid around each other, there is no point in coming out and saying I am concerned about them,” Gallen said.
“I am concerned about them playing well and if they are good enough to play for the NSW side they are good enough.
“We always seem to get this problem in NSW where we seem to eat each other, it is quite annoying as captain to be honest.”
Gallen said you didn’t hear about the same happening in Queensland.
“I don’t want to take a leaf out of Queensland’s book, because I don’t want to have anything to do with them.
“But I don’t know why we have to bag each other.
“Having said that, Joey is entitled to his opinions.”