Ahead of Friday's #NRL game between Penrith Panthers and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, writer Rob C...
7 hours ago
Spurned by Queensland's Origin selectors, Rhys Wesser has been comforted by a man who knows how he feels, St George Illawarra winger Nathan Blacklock.
Blacklock declined to reveal what advice he gave Penrith's flashy fullback but his manager, Shaun Martin, confirmed on Wednesday Blacklock contacted Wesser with some words of encouragement.
"He wants to keep what he said to him (Wesser) private," Martin said.
"He's not keen to get into it publicly."
Blacklock always found himself on the outer when Origin came around despite being rated the most dangerous attacking player in the game.
When Blacklock continually missed Origin selection, fellow Aboriginal star Anthony Mundine suggested it was due to racial bias.
While overlooked for NSW, Blacklock did enough to impress the national selectors and played two tests for the Kangaroos in 2001.
There's no suggestion Wesser has been overlooked for any reasons other than normal selection criteria, but he may end up following the same path as Blacklock, with Kangaroos coach Chris Anderson recently saying the Penrith star was under consideration for his squad to take on the Kiwis later this month.
Blacklock's frustration with the Blues was one of the reasons he became disillusioned with rugby league after leading the NRL try-scoring list for three successive seasons between 1999 and 2001.
During that period NSW used Darren Albert, Matt Geyer, Adam MacDougall and Jamie Ainscough as its Origin wingers, Queensland winning two of the three series' despite losing five of the nine games.
Blacklock has scored an amazing eight tries in four games since re-joining the Dragons mid-season following a Super 12 stint with the NSW Waratahs.
Wesser's failure to win a spot in Queensland's 17-man squad for next Wednesday night's Origin III at Suncorp Stadium caused a storm south of the Tweed.
The howls of protest were even louder than those which followed the perceived snubbing of Canberra fullback Clinton Schifcofske after the Maroons were comprehensively outplayed in Origin I last month.
As the the NRL's leading try scorer with 17 tries, critics claimed Wesser deserved an Origin call-up.
NSW prop Robbie Kearns was one of several Blues players surprised Queensland did not opt for Wesser's try-scoring genius when they named their side this week.
"It's a bit weird in the sense that he (Wesser) is one of the form players of the competition," he said.
"Some of the games I have seen him this year, he's one of those freaks the game needs."
But clearly the Queensland selectors did not want to add another fullback to its 17-man squad which already contained north Queensland's electrifying but under-sized Matthew Bowen and Australia's top-rated No.1 Darren Lockyer.
They obviously preferred to stick with specialist wingers Matt Sing and Shannon Hegarty, neither of whom deserved to be dropped on form.
The other alternative, moving the world's best fullback Lockyer to five-eighth or even halfback to accommodate the lightning-quick Wesser, was never going to happen under coach Wayne Bennett.