Origin in the Air

The Blues Origin squad assembled this morning for medicals at Telstra Stadium amid doubts over Newcastle winger Timana Tahu's fitness. Club coach and opposing State coach, Michael Hagan, said he felt it may have been too much to expect the big winger to play in the opener against the Maroons on May 26 in Sydney.

Blues coach Phil Gould agreed, stating it was unlikely that Tahu would be selected, given his misfortune with a hamstring injury. The Head Cockroach even hinted that selectors may go with young Panther Luke Lewis, or even look beyond the realms of the 30-man squad and perhaps call on Bulldog Hazem El Masri or this year's leading tryscorer Amos Roberts, also of Penrith.

In other Blues news, powerhouse forward Ben Kennedy will return to the field this weekend against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium. Selectors and doctors are certain to keep a good eye on him considering the controversy surrounding his non-selection in the Australian Test team for the ANZAC day clash with the Kiwi's.

Another player the Blues selectors are sure to watch is St George Illawarra five-eighth Trent Barrett. The luckless Dragon needs a massive game to boost his chances of wearing the number six sky blue jumper.

It would appear that Storm pivot Scott Hill has the inside running at the moment, given his stellar performance for Country in last Friday's match against City. And there really is no better game for Barrett to show up, with no less than five Bulldogs in contention for positions and one Braith Anasta out to prove a few people wrong.

On the other side of the ledger, inaugural Queensland Origin captain and current Test selector Arthur Beetson expects the young brigade of Cane Toads to come of age if asked to do so.

Artie, who loves a pie, has bracketed Scott Prince, Chris Flannery and Matt Bowen in what he believes are three problem areas facing the Queensland outfit this year. With Bronco's Darren Lockyer and Brett Seymour on the sidelines at the moment, Beetson feels that these youngsters are the right men to fill in the gaps. And given Lockyer's move from fullback to five-eighth, it opens up three positions that are up for grabs.

Other players that will surely come under the microscope are Rhys Wesser and Billy Slater.