THE City slickers face a play-making crisis ahead of next Friday’s annual State of Origin selection trial, with no experienced halfbacks fit to play and captain Robbie Farah tipped to be unavailable because of Kangaroos duty.
In the absence of injured duo Mitchell Pearce (shoulder) and Peter Wallace (knee), the only remaining halfback candidates are tyros Kris Keating and Trent Hodkinson.
The 21-year-olds have only just risen through the junior ranks at Cabramatta together but, with just 38 NRL appearances between them, they are now joint favourites for a shock representative call-up opposite formidable Country pair Todd Carney and Brett Kimmorley.
City’s chairman of selectors John Hayes was still coming to grips with the shortage when we contacted him yesterday.
“That’s caught us out a bit, so we will have to have a good look and come up with something,” Hayes said.
“Both [Keating] and [Hodkinson] are on our list, and there’s one other [Scott Porter] who is not playing first grade.”
Should the selectors not want to throw either youngster in the deep end, a makeshift half will have to suffice. Farah - named as the Tigers’ No.7 yesterday - shapes as the most obvious candidate but sources at ARL headquarters reckon he’ll more likely be in Melbourne than Port Macquarie next week.
We’ve been told Farah is an odds-on chance to make the Australian bench, leaving City with only Braith Anasta, John Sutton and Feleti Mateo as ball-players with previous representative experience.
Lachlan Coote played his junior football at five eighth, but the Panthers flyer is already a shoo-in for fullback at City.
Source: Daily Telegraph