NSW coach Laurie Daley has all but ruled out picking Canberra halves Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin because of their lack of big-game experience.
The Raiders playmakers have been touted as a possible Blues pairing for this year’s State of Origin series with Immortal Andrew Johns calling for them to be ushered into the line up.
Daley has a headache on his hands with big question marks over his incumbents Mitchell Pearce and Trent Hodkinson ahead of the June 1 series opener at ANZ Stadium.
Sydney Roosters’ Pearce is serving a suspension for his Australia Day disgrace and will have just three games to make his case upon his return in round nine.
While Hodkinson’s Newcastle Knights are winless after five rounds and he has failed to fire at his new club since his off-season switch from Canterbury.
Top contender South Sydney No.7 Adam Reynolds is out with a broken jaw but is expected to return in time for a head-to-head duel with North Queensland’s Johnathan Thurston next week.
Canterbury’s Josh Reynolds is also in the mix despite having been dropped for last year’s unsuccessful Origin shield defence.
Daley said on Fox Sports’ NRL 360 on Wednesday night that the fact that neither Austin nor Sezer had played finals football was also counting against them.
“You have to realise these two guys have never played in a big game,” Daley said.
“They’re 25 years of age and they haven’t taken their teams to semi-finals, so we can’t judge them on the big stage, all we can do is judge them on what they’re doing at the moment and that’s a critical component of the make up of your Origin team.
“You can’t pick someone in a critical position and be hoping they’re going to get it right on the night.”
Daley said Austin’s relative inexperience in the No.6 jumper was counting against him and wanted to see him display sustained form before he would consider him for the Origin pressure cooker.
“I’ve always consistently said that when I pick players for Origin, they’ll knock down the door and need to be consistent over a period of time before you’re confident enough to pick them,” Daley said.
“Blake had a good year last year and he needs to continue that.”