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3 hours ago
Sydney Roosters players fear a two-game losing streak against lowly opposition could cost them individually when selectors sit down to pick Australian and NSW City and Country teams on Sunday.
The Roosters' head-turning start to the year had thrust Braith Anasta, Mitchell Pearce, Nate Myles and Anthony Tupou into representative calculations alongside Test incumbent Willie Mason.
But Friday's 26-6 loss to 15th placed St George Illawarra at ANZ Stadium followed last week's limp 34-20 defeat to Newcastle and the Roosters are concerned the results may tarnish their chances at the selection table.
"It just sucks that we've lost the last couple of games and the emphasis has been on losing games and not on how good we're playing individually," said Mason.
Anasta had been applying considerable heat for a Test return at five-eighth regardless of Kangaroos skipper Darren Lockyer's fitness, but he believes his name is now more likely to be included in the City Origin side rather than the Australian.
"It would have been good to get a win today just to put a bit of heat on there," said Anasta.
"If (Lockyer) pulls through the game and has a blinder then there is no doubt they will pick him.
"I don't think I played bad today. At the moment I'm really confident when I get the ball and feel I can create opportunities.
"I feel like I have my best footy ahead of me."
Prop Myles and backrower Tupou were bolters for bench positions for Australia, but now are at long odds to force their way into the green and gold.
Queenslander Myles turned in his worst game of the year against the Dragons, just five hit-ups for 60 metres.
While Tupou was dangerous - scoring the Roosters' only try - and busy in defence, he is up against a long list of in-form backrowers like Gold Coast's Anthony Laffranchi and Melbourne's Ryan Hoffman who are playing for winning teams.
Mason couldn't impose himself on Friday's clash either and while he doesn't fear his Test position is under threat yet, he knows the competition for NSW State of Origin positions is going to be tougher than ever.
"Everyone is under the pump," said Mason.
"They're usually pretty loyal with their selections but I think last year they took a bit of a gamble with Australia and NSW to blood some young kids up and you have to be on your game all the time. You just can't lose three or four in a row.
"We've lost two and everyone is playing pretty well at the moment so no-one has really played themselves out of teams.
"(But) when we lose everyone is down and thinking the worst, like rep teams are coming up and we might miss out and all this kind of garbage.
"(Selectors) do go with their incumbents and stuff so you have to be playing out of your skin like Billy Slater is.
"But definitely the World Cup at the end of the year, a lot of players in our team might be in there."
Anasta and coach Brad Fittler meanwhile threw their support behind Pearce to be named City halfback, ahead of Brisbane's Peter Wallace and Manly's Matt Orford.
Anasta toured with the Kangaroos when he was just 19 and believes Pearce, who is currently 19, has the maturity to step up to the next level.
"If he gets picked it wouldn't come as a shock to me," he said.
"Being thrown amongst the wolves early can be a positive or a negative, you know. You will either be a superstar or straight out the back door.
"He will get there at some stage and do a good job when he gets there."