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Gold Coast boss Michael Searle believes Anthony Laffranchi should be one of the first forwards chosen in the New South Wales squad for the upcoming series opener against Queensland in Brisbane.
Titans back-rower Laffranchi put in a trademark workhorse performance in his NRL side's 24-10 loss to North Queensland on Monday night, despite playing with a broken nose that had to be pushed back into place at halftime. Searle says there's few players in the NRL tougher than Laffranchi, who has the ability to tolerate pain while still performing at a high level for 80 minutes.
Blues selectors will announce their squad on Tuesday for the May 23 sellout clash against the Maroons at Suncorp Stadium.
Australian Test coach Ricky Stuart believes the NSW number seven jumper is there for the taking - and has predicted a winner-takes-all shootout this weekend. Stuart claims final impressions will be telling with incumbent Craig Gower, Brett Kimmorley and Matt Orford locked in a three-way battle for the role in Origin one at Suncorp Stadium.
Gower is still favourite to hold onto the jumper he wore in last year's series-deciding loss at Telstra Dome, but will need a solid performance against North Queensland on Saturday night. Stuart was convinced that any player that performed poorly this weekend would not be considered for the halfback role.
Selectors will name their team for the opening Origin clash on Tuesday morning.
Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens says Benji Marshall's career is far from over and he could play again this season even if it is today confirmed he requires shoulder surgery.
Marshall will meet with club doctor Donald Kuah and specialist Des Bokor today to decide whether the bone damage done to his shoulder requires surgery. He is tentatively booked to go under the knife on Thursday.
It would be Marshall's fourth shoulder surgery in as many seasons but Sheens says the Kiwi international will come back better than ever. Teammates Robbie Farah, Brett Hodgson and John Morris have vowed to step up in his absence and hope Marshall returns in time for the Tigers run to the semi finals.