The choice of Brad Fitler for the 14th jersey was criticized after the defeat of “Blues” from Queensland in the opening match of the State of Origin.
Central “Panther” Stephen Crichton was chosen for a useful role and failed to have much impact when introduced to the game in the 52nd minute, which sparked a debate over who should take on the role in Game II.
According to Baz Rothfield of The Daily Telegraph, Crichton will still stay on the blues side in the starting position, most likely ousting Catoni Stegs, and has suggested that it is a “two-horse race” for number 14.
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“There is talk that Stephen Crichton may be in the starting lineup, so we will be looking for a new 14,” Rothfield said on NRL360.
“I think it’s a race on two horses, Nika Hines and Matt Burton played this sensational game against Parramata, I wrote to Freddie today, on his weekend, he came back to me with the lyrics.
“I clicked on it and I said a lot of emails that Matt Burton came to your bench, he came back to me and said, ‘I’ll keep a close eye on the futsal for the weekend.’
Rothfield explained that he believes Fitler can choose his side before Sunday’s clash between the Bulldogs and the Tigers, which hinders his chances.
“Now he has a problem with Burton, he doesn’t play until four o’clock on Sunday, I think the team will be selected until four o’clock on Sunday, so he opposes the Wests Tigers,” Rothfield said.
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“I think he’ll be a great inclusion on the bench, he can play five-eighths.”
But Brent Reed of The Daily Telegraph and NRL360 presenter Bright Anasta offered another option, hoping to confront a pair of elite mannequins in Queensland.
“I would go to Api Karaisov,” Reed said.
“I don’t think it’s important that they play at four o’clock.”
“I like Karaisov’s idea, I think it’s a counterattack between Hunt and Grant, Karaisov and Cook, I think Karaisov even starts the game, you have Cook coming off the bench and vice versa,” said Anasta.
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“They need a kick, they need a spark from the bench, which they didn’t have in that game I, I think that would be a good option, I don’t know if they’ll go.
“I don’t know if Hines is ready for this 14th jersey in Origin, one day he will, Burton would be a very good option.
“We know Burton can play in the fifth eighth and center, but his last offseason in Penrith they coached him on the edge all off in the offseason, thinking he would be productive ahead,” Rothfield added.
“He could have played easily, he would have been great for NSW,” Anasta said.