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4 days ago
Sydney Roosters coach Brad Fittler has called on five-eighth Braith Anasta to demand NSW selection and lead his side out of a two-game losing sequence against Canberra at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday.
Despite enjoying the finest form of his NRL career, Anasta faces a battle to regain the Blues No.6 jersey with Cronulla utility Greg Bird and Canberra star Todd Carney all vying for the five-eighth position.
Bird, who claimed man of the match honours in Origin III last year when playing five-eighth, will wear the No.6 for Australia on Friday night and is expected to retain the NSW position when new coach Craig Bellamy announces his team on Tuesday.
Fittler says Anasta's form warrants Blues selection and the 26-year-old needs to maintain his club form to keep pressing his claims for a 10th NSW jersey.
"I think Braith has got a real good showing, for seven weeks he's been overall pretty good," said Fittler.
"He just needs to keep playing good so it gets to the stage where they can't overlook you."
The Roosters fine start to 2008 suffered a double setback before last week's bye with unexpected losses to Newcastle and then St George Illawarra.
Fittler gave his men time off over the break, however five players were called upon for City-Country duty last week and another five are involved in Friday night's Centenary Test at the SCG.
The coach is hopeful his Australian and New Zealand stars - Willie Mason, Anthony Tupou, Sia Soliola, Sam Perrett and Setaimata Sa - are able to back up and play less than 24 hours after the Test.
"It's a good test for them. I think what it will do is give us a good indication if they're able to aim up tomorrow and again the following day," said Fittler.
"It's a good test of character for them ... we know only the good players can do that."
The Raiders represent a tough challenge on Saturday after pushing premiers Melbourne in Canberra and then almost upsetting the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland last week.
Fittler knows his men have plenty of improvement in them after their own lacklustre defeats and wants a return to the up tempo game that was successful earlier in the year.
"Everyone can improve on the Saints game ... I want a high energy sort of game," said Fittler.
"(Canberra) have been good, pretty impressive and play a little bit of a different style to everyone else.
"They work hard on the ground and as a team they work hard. It's one of those games if you don't turn up they can wear you down pretty easily."