Alexander leaves NSW door open for Fifita

Emma Kemp
Andrew Fifita should be picked for NSW, says Blues assistant coach Greg Alexander

NSW adviser Greg Alexander has hinted State of Origin selectors are considering picking Andrew Fifita despite his Test commitments with Tonga clashing with game two.

Fifita all but ruled himself out of Origin contention in March when he declared his preference to play with Tonga during this year's representative period.

The Pacific powerhouse play a Test against Samoa a day before Game II, but the Cronulla prop teased Blues selectors last weekend, suggesting he'd be available "if they let me play (games) one and three".

Asked by Macquarie Sports Radio Breakfast on Friday morning whether he would recommend NSW coach Brad Fittler select Fifita, Alexander said: "Yes".

"Andrew Fifita hasn't really been in discussions because of the decision he made to play with Tonga ... and I thought 'he's made up his mind.

"It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that Andrew was still keen on playing for NSW, and his form's been great.

"I don't know what will happen in terms of Andrew Fifita but I think we could do worse things than have him in the side."

Alexander, who supported his comments by stating selectors were focused only on Game I, described Fifita as the NRL's best front-rower this season.

The statistics prove his glittering form - he has the most tackle busts and offloads of all NSW-eligible big men and ranked second among the group for average metres.

"I've chatted to Freddy about Andrew Fifita and I think we've seen him grow up in the last couple of months because he's had to play without Paul Gallen and Wade Graham and Luke Lewis, and he's really taken on that responsibility," Alexander said.

"He's the best frontrower in the game at the moment so where we go from there, we'll see."

Despite Alexander's comments, it is understood the NSWRL will not consider Fifita for selection unless he is willing to commit to all three Origin matches.

The issue has polarised opinion, with Blues second-rower Tyson Frizell saying it would be unfair to other hopefuls if the 28-year-old was given the green light for just two matches.

Former Blues coach Laurie Daley backed that stance, declaring "you're either in or you are out".

Fifita will continue to press his case on Saturday when he butts heads with NSW and Canterbury props David Klemmer and Aaron Woods.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan praised Fifita's increased maturity and superb recent output in the absence of key trio Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis and Wade Graham.

But he foreshadowed a role tweak to capitalise on his strengths this week.

"He won't be playing those minutes he has been over the last two weeks," Flanagan said.

"With Gal, Luke Lewis and Wade Graham coming back in I'll be able to pull those minutes back and hopefully we can see a more explosive, powerful Andrew Fifita rather than having to balance his game over 80 minutes."