Maroons great Darren Lockyer said it would be tough for Brad Fittler to throw a rookie halfback into Game II at Suncorp having called for Adam Reynolds to wear the Sky Blue jersey. Fittler faces a huge decision in replacing Nathan Cleary at No.7 after the halfback was ruled out after a torn hamstring.
The immediate reaction was for Nicho Hynes to slot into the halfback role for Game II in Queensland. However, Cooper Cronk has backed the calls for Broncos halfback Reynolds to fill the position.
Reynolds' inclusion has been gaining momentum with the idea in-form five-eighth Cody Walker moves alongside him to reunite their old Rabbitohs partnership. And Lockyer is the latest Maroons great to back the decision, for their enemies, having labelled Reynolds' experience in big games as the deciding factor.
"Origin is obviously as big as it gets. I f I look at the players in contention there's one guy (who) stands out that's played in multiple grand finals, won a grand final, played in a grand final at this ground, and that's Adam Reynolds," Lockyer said on Wide World of Sports' QLDER show.
"If I wanted to know the person putting on that No.7 jersey is ready and capable and knows what it's all about ... it would be Adam. It's not a knock on the others. I just think from a NSW perspective it's the toughest assignment for them - coming to Suncorp to try and win.
"Let's see which way they go, but I'd be surprised if they didn't go for someone they know is tried and proven, not on this stage, but at that level." Maroons legend Wally Lewis agreed with Lockyer and said it would be 'madness' for the Blues to overlook the Broncos halfback in enemy territory.
Since Reynolds has joined the Broncos he has helped give the team direction on the park, which has seen the 32-year-old lead them up near the top of the table this year. Reynolds has played twice in the Sky Blue jersey in losing efforts back in 2016.
Darren Lockyer backs Cooper Cronk's call
Earlier in the week, Cronk was vocal about the halfback position for the Blues and said Reynolds was the right man to handle the pressure.
“Before you even think about football, you’ve got to think who can handle the situation. I think temperament becomes a big player here, game two, Suncorp Stadium, a must win to keep the series alive. That’s not just going up there and playing football, that’s can you handle this moment," he said on NRL 360.
“I think the two best at that are Nicho Hynes and Adam Reynolds - their temperament, their ability not to get rattled by anything. Nicho has got the stoic nature in the way that he plays and then you’ve got Reynolds who has basically been dominating Suncorp Stadium for the last 18 months with the Brisbane Broncos, his kicking game is elite and it’s almost the most important thing in going up to Suncorp for a big game."
Fittler's rotation of Hynes caused controversy last Wednesday when he didn't get on the field till around 10 minutes left in the game. It remains to be seen whether Fittler picks Hynes to start or goes with a more experienced big game halfback for the must-win clash.
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