It’s looking more and more like Canterbury Bulldogs halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson will turn out for NSW in State of Origin one.
Canterbury halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson have moved one step closer to replicating their partnership for NSW in the State of Origin opener at Suncorp Stadium, after guiding the Bulldogs to a seventh straight NRL win.
Blues coach Laurie Daley has plenty of headaches leading into Tuesday’s selection announcement, but none bigger than whether to overhaul his all-Sydney Roosters halves pairing with Bulldogs to face Queensland in game one.
Daley is understood to be close to axing incumbent halfback Mitchell Pearce after the Roosters halfback was arrested for an off-field incident last weekend.
If Pearce goes it would almost certainly spell the end for teammate James Maloney at five-eighth, who is struggling for form.
Reynolds and Hodkinson didn’t steal the show for the Bulldogs in their tight 16-12 victory over the Warriors in Hamilton, but the duo once again showed class in pressure situations.
Daley would be wary about taking a rookie pairing to the cauldron that is Suncorp Stadium, but he is also keen to maintain high standards for team culture after Blake Ferguson, James Tamou and Josh Dugan disrupted the team last year with boozy indiscretions.
Hodkinson’s goalkicking prowess gives him an added bonus, while Reynolds has been the form NSW No.6 in the competition.
“I’ve got no real indication,” said Reynolds.
“I’ve been trying to keep a bit of consistency going in my game at the Bulldogs and hopefully that can put my best foot forward.
“(It does affect you). It’s obviously in front of your face sometimes and you can’t really help it.
“I try and shut it out as much as possible.
“I’ve definitely got plenty of things to work on.”
Reynolds said he’d love to see Hodkinson get the call-up.
“For him to come back from all he’s been through (knee reconstruction) has been a great accomplishment for him and I’m over the moon for him. He’s a great mate of mine,” he said.
However NSW’s greatest-ever halfback Andrew Johns has encouraged Daley to show faith in Pearce.
“I understand how they’re worried about what happened last weekend but I wouldn’t be standing Mitchell down,” Johns said on the Channel Nine Footy Show.
There’s been a suggestion Daley will also drop another Rooster Boyd Cordner, who was out with Pearce in Sydney’s east last weekend.
But that decision might have been made for him, with Cordner suffering a high ankle sprain in Saturday night’s loss to North Queensland which almost certainly ends his game one hopes.
Melbourne veteran Ryan Hoffman is the favourite to replace Cordner on the left-edge, while Tony Williams and Tariq Sims put their names forward with big performances this weekend.
“He’s really stood up the past few weeks,” said Maroons legend Gorden Tallis on Triple M.
In a major relief for coach Daley, key playmaker Robbie Farah got through 80 minutes for the Wests Tigers in a successful return from his elbow dislocation.
Captain Paul Gallen turned in a bulldozing performance for Cronulla, while Jarryd Hayne was sensational for Parramatta at fullback.
The right-wing position is another contentious one for NSW, with Eels flyer Will Hopoate making a late play for an Origin recall.