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4 days ago
The emergence of a stack of form backrowers in the NRL has put Bulldogs veteran Andrew Ryan's representative future under serious threat.
Ryan has been a mainstay of representative football in the recent season, playing 11 Tests for Australia and making 12 State of Origin appearances for NSW, including all three games last year.
But the 30-year-old could find himself on the outer this season with his considerably-younger rivals - Cronulla's Greg Bird (24) and Paul Gallen (26) and the Gold Coast's Anthony Laffranchi (27) - all pushing their claims.
Throw in the likes Willie Mason, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ryan Hoffman and Anthony Tupou, and Ryan is seemingly out of the frame for next month's Centenary Test and facing an uphill battle to hold on to his Origin spot.
"There's a million backrowers around at the moment, so I'm not too concerned about that at this stage," Ryan said of his representative hopes.
"I'm just trying to make sure we get a win against Manly (on Saturday) and we've got the bye next week and then we'll just see what happens."
Ryan admitted he would jump at the chance to avenge Queensland's series win last year.
"Anyone would do anything to be involved in that series, especially after losing to Queensland last year, but we'll just see how things go," Ryan said.
"If I get picked, I'd definitely love to play.
"It's up to the selectors I guess, but I'd definitely love to be a part of all of it."
If Ryan is overlooked for the Test side when it is picked on Sunday, he would likely be named in the Country side to play City next week, in what would provide him a chance to remind NSW selectors of his worth.
Bulldogs coach Steve Folkes said on Wednesday he hoped NSW selectors kept faith with Ryan, saying the Bulldogs captain still wouldn't be out of place in the Test side.
"Look he's been really good for us for the first six rounds of the competition, as he always is," Folkes said.
"He's someone who can play 80 minutes and he certainly wouldn't be out of place in a green and gold jumper again.
"The guys who play with him like playing with him which is the best accolade you can get I guess.
"He's done the job before and he certainly wouldn't let anyone down and he's been in pretty good form.
"They could do a lot worse than pick Andrew Ryan, that's for sure."