Tiger Woods to tee off for Blues
Daniel Lane
June 3, 2012

WESTS Tigers prop Aaron Woods is all but certain to make his State of Origin debut in game two against Queensland while much-maligned bench forward Jamie Buhrer might escape the selection axe.

The Sun-Herald was told by a source within the Blues camp before Woods ran out for the Tigers last night that he was a ‘‘decent chance’’ to be brought on to the bench for the must-win clash with the Maroons.

NSW coach Ricky Stuart made a special trip to the nation’s capital to determine whether Woods was ready for his first sky-blue jumper. The 21-year-old has been in outstanding form for the Tigers and was selected as the Blues’ 18th man for the match in Melbourne.

Woods did his chances no harm with another powerhouse performance, running for 168 metres from 18 hit-ups while also making 24 tackles. Buhrer, who had been expected to be a casualty when the NSW team is named later today, still has some hope of playing in Origin II - provided he is cleared of an injury.

It is understood Stuart is mulling over whether incumbent No.9 Robbie Farah can play the entire 80 minutes at ANZ Stadium on June 13. Buhrer played only seven minutes in the opening game in Melbourne, but if Stuart is unsure about Farah lasting the game and Buhrer is given a clean bill of health after suffering a back injury in Manly’s 20-8 win over St George Illawarra on Friday night, he could stay on the bench.

With Woods laying strong claims to his first state jersey and a fully fit Anthony Watmough poised to return to the Origin arena for the injured Tony Williams, Dragons duo Ben Creagh and Trent Merrin are under pressure to hold their spots on the bench.

‘‘Ricky isn’t sure on what he’ll do about Jamie Buhrer yet,’’ a source within the NSW camp said last night. ‘‘A lot will depend on whether he believes Robbie Farah can play the entire game.’’

The Sun-Herald was told one of Stuart’s first duties this morning would be to phone Watmough to ask whether he had pulled up fit following Friday night’s match at Brookvale. Stuart wants to be assured that, if selected, Watmough would not be troubled by the shoulder problem that kept him out of the Origin opener.

Meanwhile, Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has blasted as ‘‘completely false’’ a rumour suggesting back-rower Jeremy Smith wanted to leave the club.

‘‘We’re about to extend his deal,’’ a bemused Flanagan said yesterday. ‘‘Jeremy is very happy here. I don’t know where the rumour is coming from but I can guarantee there is nothing to it at all.’’