The pressure is on incumbents Mitchell Pearce and Jamie Soward to hold their spots with a host of players pressing their claims so far this season. Strong cases could be made for comeback kid Todd Carney, Raiders captain Terry Campese, Jarrod Mullen and James Maloney but it is the claims of Broncos half Peter Wallace that appears to be gaining momentum.
The flame haired halfback has not donned the sky blue since 2009 when he suffered an unfortunate and no doubt extremely painful ruptured testicle in the second game. He was replaced by Brett Kimmorley for the final game of that series and has not been able to work his way back into the NSW fold since.
That all looks set to change this year. Wallace has been thrust into the main playmaking role at the Broncos following the retirement of Darren Lockyer and has handled the increased pressure and workload with aplomb. So much so that Coach Anthony Griffin believes that Wallace is now tailor made for the Origin arena. "He's perfect for Origin," said Griffin. "He's a rugged defender. He's got a great kicking game; he can get a team around the park."
Even NSW coach Ricky Stuart has come out saying that the erratic form of several Blues halves contenders had opened the selection door for Wallace. "Peter Wallace is right in the mix," Stuart said. "He is probably the only half that has shown consistency from day one to now and his team is showing the results of that."
Your guess is as good as mine as to who will wear the sky blue jumpers at Etihad Stadium on 23rd of May as NSW try and wrestle the State of Origin crown back from the Queenslanders for the first time since 2005. One thing is for sure, Ricky Stuart and the rest of NSW will be watching Peter Wallace and co intently over the next few weeks.
The Maroons on the other hand have no such dilemma with the outstanding Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston locked in for the Queensland number 7 and 6 jerseys. It is an enviable position to be in; especially considering this is the first year they will be without the services of the great Darren Lockyer. It is this stability that has been the hallmark of the Maroons over the last 6 seasons and will be a big factor in their quest for a seventh straight series victory.
Adam Schoenmaker is a high school chaplain in the northern suburbs of Brisbane for three days each week and serves two days a week in his local church. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
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