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Battle on for NSW Origin five-eighth spot

The NSW five-eighth spot has become the most contentious State of Origin selection for years, two weeks before coach Laurie Daley names his team for the interstate opener.
Battle on for NSW Origin five-eighth spot
by AAP

By James MacSmith and Ed Jackson

SYDNEY, May 7 AAP - The NSW five-eighth spot has become the most contentious State of Origin selection for years, two weeks before coach Laurie Daley names his team for the interstate opener.

Incumbent James Maloney, Josh Reynolds, Jarrod Mullen and John Sutton have two NRL rounds to impress Daley before this year's first interstate clash in Brisbane on May 28.

Daley has kept quiet about who has the front running to partner Mitchell Pearce in the Blues' halves, but on Wednesday NSW back-rower Greg Bird said he would like to see Canterbury playmaker Josh Reynolds get the nod.

"The standout five-eighth of the year is Joshie Reynolds," Bird said.

"He's topping every stat and he's a rugby league player. He's not all about skill, speed, strength and size.

"He's tenacious, aggressive and that's what you love to see in those sorts of arenas."

Reynolds has been a key figure in the Bulldogs' outstanding start to the season, while Daley said he couldn't split the tough No.6 and Canterbury five-eighth Jarrod Mullen in their head-to-head battle in City-Country in Dubbo on Saturday.

Sydney Roosters premiership winner James Maloney's form improved markedly in the past two games after a slow start to the season.

But the former Warriors pivot suffered a shoulder injury in the Roosters' Anzac Day win over St George Illawarra and remains in doubt for the tricolours' round nine fixture with Wests Tigers on Friday.

Daley said he was happy for Sutton to sit out City-Country with a slight quad strain, saying he had seen enough of the South Sydney veteran.

Sutton missed out on a spot on the Blues bench for Origin I last year, after losing a "train-off" to Reynolds.

Reynolds didn't play a minute in NSW's win, but played off the bench in the game one loss before being overlooked for the decider.

Sutton has impressed at five-eighth for Souths after starting the season in the back row.

"To be honest, I haven't been thinking about (Origin) at all. I've just been enjoying playing at six," Sutton said.

"I'm happy with my form at the moment. I'm happy with the way things are going. There are definitely things I can improve on.

"It was a little bit disappointing, but that was last year. That is long gone now.

"There are a lot of good five-eighths running around at the moment. For me to get picked, I have to be playing my best footy every week."


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