Aaron Woods has emerged as a leading contender to be the next long-term NSW State of Origin captain.
The question of Paul Gallen’s successor will loom large over the 2016 Origin series, with his dominating presence to leave a large void when he exits following his sixth series at the Blues’ helm.
Robbie Farah has captained the Blues in Gallen’s absence due to injury in that time.
But Farah is 33 next year and could join a host of other stars to call quits on representative football at the end of 2017, leaving him as just a possible short-term fix as Blues captain.
Blues insiders have been impressed by 25-year-old Woods’ leadership within the NSW team.
The bearded prop has also impressed in his leadership role at Wests Tigers since taking over the captaincy from Farah at the NRL club this year.
He has cemented his place in the NSW team over the past three years and is now in prime position to become a long-term leader of the state.
Greg Bird, 31, missed last year’s series due to suspension but has been a mainstay of the Blues line-up for several years.
He has played 15 matches since 2007.
Bird has previously captained Gold Coast and could be another option as a short-term skipper, given he is nearing the end of his career.
“Hopefully if I am still around next year, I will still have a leadership role like I do now,” Bird said.
“But I am not focused on the captaincy at the moment.
“After missing last year I am only focused on putting in a good performance, getting my teammates to do the same and hopefully winning the series this year.”