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NSW greats divided over Farah for Origin

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/05/2017

Robbie Farah of the Rabbitohs © Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Robbie Farah of the Rabbitohs Blues greats Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler are divided as the axe dangles over veteran hooker Robbie Farah's NSW Origin career

Farah has been the Blues' first-choice hooker since 2012, and has twice captained the side but, at 33, his representative career would likely be over if dropped.

Forced to come off the bench in five matches, Farah has played a full 80 minutes just twice this season since shifting to South Sydney from the Wests Tigers.

And Johns said he wouldn't have him in the NSW team for the 2017 series opener to be named by coach Laurie Daley on Monday night.

"I'd have Nathan Peats or Peter Wallace at hooker," Johns told Nine's Sunday Footy Show.

Peats has helped rejuvenate Gold Coast's form since returning from a shoulder injury in round seven.

Wallace, meanwhile, has found a new home in the No.9 jersey for Penrith since last playing for NSW at halfback in 2009.

If Farah is not picked, it will be the first time the Blues take to the field without either ex-captain Paul Gallen and vice-captain Farah since the opening game of the 2010 series.

However Fittler warned against dropping Farah, questioning the impact it could have on the team's cohesion.

He pointed to the combination Farah has established with big forwards Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods and David Klemmer in recent years, as well with the likes of Mitchell Pearce in his 16 Origin games.

"With front-row it's the combination with the hooker," Fittler said.

"Do you keep Robbie Farah or pick someone else who has to learn a new combination with 10 or so players?"

James Tedesco is fighting to keep his spot in the No.1 jersey, with Johns adamant his disappointing recent club form for Wests Tigers shouldn't impact on his Origin chances.

"There's been different halves combinations (at Wests Tigers) and he is playing off the back foot," Johns said.

"There are no options for him."

Fittler disagreed, believing Dugan should be named at fullback where he has excelled for St George Illawarra.

Available again after a two-series absence, Jarryd Hayne could return to the Origin arena as either left wing or centre, with Jack Bird, Michael Jennings and Brett Morris the other contenders on that edge.

James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce appear set to reunite in the halves, having played together for NSW in 2013 - the same year they won a premiership together at the Sydney Roosters.

Boyd Cordner is tipped to be the new captain of Daley's squad, while Wade Graham, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic will likely join him in the back-row and off the bench.

Johns also called for the shock inclusions of Canberra prop Junior Paulo in No.8, while both pushed for Penrith utility Tyrone Peachey off the bench, if Bird is to start in the centres.

ANDREW JOHNS' NSW 17: James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan, Jack Bird, Jarryd Hayne, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Junior Paulo, Nathan Peats, Andrew Fifita, Tyson Frizell, Boyd Cordner (capt), Wade Graham. Interchange: Tyrone Peachey, Jake Trbojevic, James Tamou, Paul Vaughan.

BRAD FITTLER'S NSW 17: Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Jack Bird, Jarryd Hayne, Latrell Mitchell, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, James Tamou, Robbie Farah, Andrew Fifita, Tyson Frizell, Boyd Cordner (capt), Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: Tyrone Peachey, Wade Graham, Paul Vaughan, David Klemmer.

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