He has attracted plenty of
unflattering headlines over the years but the time is right for NSW
selectors to name Todd Carney as Blues five-eighth for this year's State
of Origin series.
NSW looks healthy when it comes to the number
six position, with Carney, Jamie Soward, Jarrod Mullen, Terry Campese
and James Maloney all staking strong claims for the important spot.
But I would opt for Carney on two counts - form and his combination with Mitchell Pearce.
Carney's form for Cronulla this year is back to where it was when he won the 2010 Dally M Medal.
was also the year Carney and Pearce combined brilliantly to guide the
Sydney Roosters into the NRL grand final against St George Illawarra.
and Carney were great that year and they have played 50-odd games
together. That, in my eyes, gives Carney the edge over his rivals for
the NSW job assuming Pearce will be picked, as is expected.
Soward is the incumbent and has done nothing wrong. He was there last
year when NSW came within a whisper of beating Queensland.
Mullen looks far more comfortable in the number six jumper for Newcastle
and wouldn't be out of place in the NSW side either. Campese is another
who would look more than comfortable playing at that elite level.
has put together two average games in the past fortnight and his
defence is questionable but there is no doubt he is tough and a great
Whoever NSW pick though will be a challenge for Blues coach Ricky Stuart.
has a genuine edge in their halves with Johnathan Thurston and Cooper
Cronk having already played together at Test level. I may be jumping the
gun a little but surely Cronk and Thurston will be the Australian
halves as they have a confident and settled combination.
which throws together two halves from different clubs and thinks they
can gel in a week is dreaming. It is difficult to do. That is why
Carney-Pearce would probably be the best option for the NSW.
Carney will only become stronger and more dynamic at his new club as the season progresses.
Let's be honest, Carney was probably going to be first picked last year until he ran into some trouble at the Roosters.
saw a quote in a newspaper from Carney last week which caught my eye.
"He (Pearce) is a really good mate of mine and I'd love to play with him
in Origin, as we worked well together," Carney said.
It is hard to argue.
Finally, let me say how humbled I was to be inducted into the Newcastle Hall of Fame last week.
was genuinely surprised to be named alongside Paul Harragon, Andrew
Johns, Allan McMahon and Matt Gidley. In all honesty, I was just proud
to be nominated in the final ten but to be named as an inaugural
inductee was truly amazing. It will always be one of the great honours
of my life.
- Michael Hagan is Qld assistant coach and a premiership-winning player & coach