The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
3 days ago - 2 Likes
My fellow New South Welshman, Martin Kennedy pledged his allegiance to our little brother to the north and it is all much ado about nothing, he was never going to pull on the sky blue, he won't be wearing maroon either, not this year anyway.
That's all I have to say about that topic, it was the headline that spawned from the story which had me questioning what people are thinking.
Apparently, the New South Wales Blues are in the midst of a front row crisis.
Stop the insanity, any talk of a front row crisis is sensationalist malarkey!
There have been three New South Wales front row contenders standing out this season, Aiden Tolman, Tim Mannah and Luke Bailey.
Anybody involved in the various fantasy competitions around will be aware of the great start Aiden Tolman has had to the season, the Bulldogs owe a lot of their success to his tireless work.
As a starting prop he is staying on the field more than most and putting in the hard yards while he is there.
On average he is clocking up 64 minutes per game, making 35 tackles and an impressive 164 metres.
He is the kind of player who could thrive amongst the high intensity of Origin football with his big motor and hunger for work, having him in the pack alongside someone like Paul Gallen would assure the Blues of some go forward throughout most of the 80 minutes.
Tim Mannah has been a specialist bench man for the Eels the past few years, with the departure of Nathan Cayless he has been promoted to a starting role and is taking the opportunity with both hands.
He has averaged 153 metres and 27 tackles in each game he has competed in full (injury cut down his minutes against the Panthers), and this past weekend had an ongoing battle with Queensland prop Matthew Scott, and ended up walking away from the game with three Dally M points.
Mannah played the final Origin game in 2010 from the bench and did not look out of place in the dead rubber, I think it is safe to assume he will add to his Origin caps soon enough.
Having announced his retirement from representative football last year, Luke Bailey would be a selection out of left field.
Bailey's 2011 form so far, in a poor Titan's side I must say, has been reminiscent of his days at the Dragons, when his form made him hard to ignore for representative honours.
Like Tolman, his average minutes are at a lofty 64 minutes and he is averaging close to 150 metres and 30 tackles per match.
There's very little Origin experience amongst the New South Wales front row contenders and his battle hardened head could be a great lift for the Blues, I am sure a call from Ricky Stuart or a word from his club coach, and Blues assistant John Cartwright, could have him in the sky blue once again if his form keeps up.
The list of other New South Wales eligible props includes Kade Snowden, Jason King and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, who all played a part in last year's series, with Luke Douglas, Tim Grant, and Keith Galloway also worth consideration, not a bad bunch of young front row forwards. Michael Weyman is another who could play a role, latest reports have him possibly back within a fortnight, if he can prove his fitness he will be an automatic selection.
Clearly, the front row options are in abundance, rest assured Blues fans; there is no crisis.