Laurie Daley has an abundance of left-side wingers at his disposal for State of Origin I, but he needs to turn one into a right-side player.
Does three lefts make a right?
That’s the riddle NSW State of Origin coach Laurie Daley must answer when he settles on his wing pairing for game one against Queensland on May 28.
Kangaroos and Blues incumbent Brett Morris and leading candidates Daniel Tupou and Jorge Taufua are all specialist left-side wingers.
Daley must decide which man he believes can successfully make the switch to the right-hand side of the field.
If selectors aren’t sold on Tupou’s size and power alone, Sydney Roosters teammate Michael Jennings could be the winger’s ticket to an Origin debut.
The pair have developed a lethal partnership on the left side of the field over the past two seasons, and on Friday night both bagged doubles in the Roosters’ 30-6 NRL win over Wests Tigers.
If Daley is to take a punt on 195cm aerial leaper Tupou for a debut at Suncorp Stadium, it would help the 22-year-old no end if he was in his familiar position with a familiar face on his inside.
Roosters five-eighth James Maloney, himself vying for the hotly-contested No.6 jersey, believes a familiar combination could get his club wingman over the line.
“Toopes has been tremendous and would be great if he got the opportunity,” said Maloney.
“Obviously it’s up to Laurie and the selectors, but he’s doing a brilliant job for us and you’d imagine Jenko will be there. He’s a very good centre and hopefully maybe having Jenko there and them having that combination might help (Tupou) push his case.”
For City Origin last week, Tupou and Taufua played one half each on their preferred side.
Manly bulldozer Taufua hardly saw the ball when he was on the right in Dubbo and whether he can replicate his try-scoring feats for the Sea Eagles playing on the opposite side of the field on the world’s biggest stage remains a risk for Daley.
The coach would be hesitant to move Morris, given the seasoned performer is one of NSW’s few Test stars – but perhaps his experience makes him the man most likely to be asked to do a job on the right.
Wests Tigers winger Pat Richards has been touted as an Origin bolter, but he too is a left-side player for his club.
Richards suffered a head knock in the loss to the Roosters and left the field, but Tigers coach Mick Potter made a point of emphasising that the side will take every precaution after they were fined for breaching the NRL’s concussion rules during the week.
Meanwhile, Maloney denied he’d rushed back early from a shoulder injury on the request of Blues coach Daley, who has stated he wanted to see better form from the incumbent No.6.
“No we didn’t really speak about that. Personally, I just felt for myself and the Roosters it was best I got back as soon as I could,” he said.