Menzies and Anasta in race to be
Blues' 18th man

New South Wales coach Phil Gould has indicated Steve Menzies and Braith Anasta are in a two-horse race to be Blues' travelling reserve for State of Origin I against Queensland.

Either Menzies or South Sydney captain Bryan Fletcher had been mooted as the likely 18th man, with selectors known to be keen on taking an extra back rower to Brisbane as insurance for the injured Ben Kennedy.

But as Kennedy shows signs of recovering for the series opener at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night, Gould says he wants a more versatile player than an out-and-out back-rower to make the trip north. He also wants the 18th man to come from within either of the two NSW squads that had already assembled this season.

If Gould gets his way, that leaves only Menzies and Anasta as candidates.

Menzies, a veteran of 15 Origin games for the Blues, will get his chance to impress selectors when Manly travels to Leichhardt Oval to meet Wests Tigers on Sunday.

Anasta, who was dropped from the NSW squad after game two of last year's series was all but promised the five-eighth role this year when Trent Barrett was injured, must produce the goods for the Bulldogs against the Sydney Roosters at Aussie Stadium tomorrow night.