NSW hooker Robbie Farah set to play full 80 minutes in State of Origin II in Sydney
The Sunday Telegraph
June 03, 2012 12:00AM
THREE weeks after being slammed as not being good enough for Origin, hooker Robbie Farah will be asked to play the full 80 minutes in the most important game in NSW’s history.
Blues coach Ricky Stuart is set to axe utility Jamie Buhrer for Origin II in Sydney on Wednesday week. It is a match they have to win to avoid the ignominy of a seventh straight series loss - and having it happen on home soil.
Stuart was so impressed with Farah’s stand-out performance in Origin I that he is poised to announce the Wests Tigers skipper as his only dummy-half option for the do-or-die clash in 10 days.
Buhrer, who picked up a back injury during Manly’s win against the Dragons on Friday night, and Tony Williams are expected to be the only Blues casualties.
Anthony Watmough, who was a shock omission from the series opener, will earn a reprieve when the team is announced tonight.
He will then have to show a shoulder injury he suffered on Friday night won’t affect him against the Maroons.
Stuart was last night awaiting a medical diagnosis of Watmough’s injury, but early indications from Manly officials suggest the injury isn’t a major one.
The decision to select Watmough will provide the Blues with a tremendous amount of experience for such a big game.
The selection of Watmough is also evidence that Stuart has no issues with the Manly forward despite him knocking back an offer to be 18th man for the Melbourne game.
Rookie Tigers prop Aaron Woods, team-mate Keith Galloway and Penrith’s Tim Grant were in the running to replace Williams, who is out for a month with a back injury.
But Woods, the 105kg Tigers enforcer, is a clear favourite.
If Woods, 21, is chosen, it would also see NSW skipper Paul Gallen return to lock.
Woods or Dragons prop Trent Merrin would start up front with Cowboys enforcer James Tamou.
The omission of Buhrer, who was given under 10 minutes in Origin I, is designed to give Stuart greater manoeuvrability with his bench.
Luke Lewis, Greg Bird and Glenn Stewart will now be asked to provide that utility role should the Blues suffer an injury in the halves.
Stuart was in Canberra last night for the Tigers-Raiders game to get a first-hand look at Woods and Galloway before making a final call on his team.
Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney will remain as the halves despite coming under the spotlight for an inconsistent performance in game one.
Meanwhile, Mal Meninga will keep the same Maroons side for game two as they look to seal the series.
There was some concern for Gold Coast Titans backrower Ashley Harrison after he picked up a rib injury in Friday night’s win over North Queensland, but he not in any doubt for the Sydney game.