Boyd Cordner is the right man to lead the NSW Blues and could hold the State of Origin trophy aloft in 2017, according to Dubbo product Andrew Ryan.
The St John’s junior and Blues great is pleased with the side chosen by NSW coach Laurie Daley and said they have what it takes to beat Queensland and win the series.
Ryan said Roosters second-rower Cordner was the right man to lead the side and would lead by example.
“He’s one of my favourite players and he’s a young guy so he can be there for a number of years. There were a couple of options [for captain] but for me he was a standout and the right choice,” Ryan said.
“I definitely think the Blues can win the series but the beauty of Origin is that anything can happen and one big moment can change a game ... so it’s up to them to win those big moments.”
The selection of James Maloney, who played his initial league with St Joseph’s Sheahan in Orange, and Mitchell Pearce in the halves was another smart call by Daley, Ryan said.
The pair were more than capable of controlling the game, he added.
“I’m a big Mitchell Pearce fan. I think he has copped some unfair criticism in the past but he alone doesn’t win or lose games. He has been in great form and I think he will do a great job.
“James is a test player and now a premiership winner and his partnership with Mitchell will be important for the Blues.”
Ryan said he would have liked to see Wade Graham in the starting line-up but acknowledged it was a positive sign if NSW had enough depth to keep him on the bench.
“Probably the only question mark is over Aaron Woods and his hamstring but he would have got a lot of confidence out of playing last week and he still has another week to get it ready,” the former Bulldogs and Eels forward said.
Queensland have named another formidable side and Ryan said he could understand the decision of Maroons selectors and coach Kevin Walters to leave Billy Slater out of the side.
“It’s pretty much what I expected their side to look like. There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not to leave Bill Slater out of the team. They could have put Billy on the wing but he is an out-and-out fullback,” he said.
“Queensland has shown over the years it will stay loyal to guys rather than making changes and that’s what they have done again.”
Ryan expects Anthony Milford and Michael Morgan to step up and fill the void for the Maroons if Johnathan Thurston is ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Wellington Cowboys junior Blake Ferguson is the Western Rams region’s other NSW representative.