NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has plenty to ponder ahead of Origin II. Picture: AAP
NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has plenty to ponder ahead of Origin II. Picture: AAP

Monday Buzz: Blues bolter to put fear into Maroons

State of Origin is littered with some remarkable selection "bolter" stories over the years.

Remember Jamie Buhrer in 2012, the Queensland winger Adam Mogg in 2006 or the boys picked from bush football, Rex Wright in 1984 and Phil Duke in 1982.

Their selections were met with stunning disbelief.

So here's another one.

Any man who can stand toe-to-toe and go to war with South Sydney's Sam, Tom and George Burgess is made for State of Origin.

 

NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has plenty to ponder ahead of Origin II. Picture: AAP
NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has plenty to ponder ahead of Origin II. Picture: AAP

 

If Brad Fittler gets the match video from Fox Sports, he will know what we're talking about.

Underrated Newcastle Knights front-rower Daniel Saifiti not only finished on top of the much-feared Rabbitohs forwards on Friday night but scored a knockout win over the Sydney Roosters forwards in his previous outing against the NRL's premiership-winning pack.

It was his brutal tackle that knocked Luke Keary into Disneyland and out of football for six weeks.

Saifiti weighs 121kg and stands 195cm tall. He averages 45 minutes per game.

The Queensland halves would be looking out for him all night.

 

Daniel Saifiti locks horns with Tom Burgess at ANZ Stadium. Picture: AAP
Daniel Saifiti locks horns with Tom Burgess at ANZ Stadium. Picture: AAP

 

That he outperformed the South Sydney pack without his front-row partner Dave Klemmer on Friday night was a phenomenal old-school front-row performance.

That he wouldn't back away when headbutts and punches were thrown was even more impressive.

Fittler has to find two new front-rowers for Origin II in Perth on Sunday week.

One for Klemmer and the other to replace Angus Crichton to get more power and oomph off the Blues bench in the middle.

Saifiti doesn't get as much media exposure as the Cowboys' Jordan McLean, the Broncos' Matt Lodge, the Panthers' Reagan Campbell-Gillard or the Cronulla Sharks' ever-reliable Matt Prior.

 

Daniel Saifiti stepped up for the Knights against the Rabbitohs. Picture: Getty Images
Daniel Saifiti stepped up for the Knights against the Rabbitohs. Picture: Getty Images

 

But he is the premiership's most-improved prop who has developed his game nicely from playing in the same pack as Klemmer and Tim Glasby this year.

He wouldn't be out of place in a NSW jumper.

McLean is out of contention after being hurt in the Cowboys' loss to Manly on Saturday night.

That leaves Lodge and Campbell-Gillard as the more orthodox selections unless the Blues gamble on the 24-year-old Knights forward, although Lodge let himself down with some poor discipline against the Titans and is on report for a high tackle.

The most intriguing selection debate continues over the halves.

The push for Mitchell Pearce, who has engineered the Knights' six straight wins, is gaining momentum.

 

Mitchell Pearce's failure to win Origin selection should help the Knights.  Picture: Getty Images
Mitchell Pearce's failure to win Origin selection should help the Knights. Picture: Getty Images

 

He should be a certainty to be chosen if he plays well against Melbourne Storm next weekend.

There is also a strong push for Jack Wighton to start at five-eighth and for Cody Walker to come off the bench.

Buzz's NSW Blues team for Game Two

1 James Tedesco

2 Tom Trbojevic

3 Josh Morris

4 Latrell Mitchell

5 Josh Addo-Carr

6 Jack Wighton

7 Mitchell Pearce

8 Reagan Campbell-Gillard

9 Damien Cook

10 Paul Vaughan

11 Tyson Frizell

12 Boyd Cordner

13 Jake Trbojevic

Bench

14 Cody Walker

15 Cameron Murray

16 Payne Haas

17 Daniel Saifiti

Out: Nick Cotric, Nathan Cleary, Dave Klemmer, Angus Crichton

In: Tom Trbojevic, Mitchell Pearce, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Daniel Saifiti

News Corp Australia


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