NSW Blues call up Panther Grant
Penrith prop Tim Grant is the surprise inclusion in a bulked-up New South Wales State of Origin squad that will attempt to level the series in next week's game two at the Olympic stadium.by NRL
Penrith prop Tim Grant is the surprise inclusion in a bulked-up New South Wales State of Origin squad that will attempt to level the series in next week's game two at the Olympic stadium.
The inclusion of Grant in the starting line-up - with skipper Paul Gallen moving back to lock - was one of two changes made by Blues coach Ricky Stuart, with Manly's Anthony Watmough also recalled to the interchange bench after being controversially overlooked for the series opener.
Injured Sea Eagle Tony Williams (back) was unavailable, while Manly utility Jamie Buhrer was dropped after making little impact in the 18-10 loss in Melbourne in Origin I last month.
Buhrer could yet have a role to play however, with Watmough under an injury cloud, the Sea Eagles back rower to have an injection in his troublesome shoulder on Monday in a bid to ensure he is right for Wednesday week's match.
"He's got a couple of vertebrae that are inflamed ... this will be a chance to really speed up the recovery part of the neural problem that he's got," Stuart said.
"He'll miss some sessions early in the piece ... talking to Choc, he's got no dramas about being right for the game."
The inclusion of 24-year-old Grant - who has played just six matches this year due to a calf problem - gives the Blues a monster starting pack with James Tamou alongside him in the front row, with Gallen's shift to lock allowing Stuart the luxury of giving his captain a breather at some stage of the match.
Stuart says the selection of Grant, whom he described as a "big lump of a kid", reflects the growing depth New South Wales enjoys in the front row stocks.
"We're getting to a situation where we are quite lucky with some positions," he said.
"That's one of them in regard to the these young guys coming through and standing up and showing they have the qualities to play Origin football.
"Tim will be a very excited boy right at this moment. I spoke to him ... and he was over the moon."
Stuart has no fears Grant will be intimidated by the heightened atmosphere of the Origin arena.
He also had no question about naming Grant in the front row, which meant Gallen moved to lock.
"To be able to come through and then be able to get a chance to start and put Paul (Gallen) back is a real asset to his quality of form," he said.
1 Brett Stewart - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
2 Jarryd Hayne - Parramatta Eels
3 Michael Jennings - Penrith Panthers
4 Josh Morris - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
5 Akuila Uate - Newcastle Knights
6 Todd Carney - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
7 Mitchell Pearce - Sydney Roosters
8 Tim Grant - Penrith Panthers
9 Robbie Farah - Wests Tigers
10 James Tamou - North Queensland Cowboys
11 Glenn Stewart - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
12 Greg Bird - Gold Coast Titans
13 Paul Gallen [c] - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
14 Trent Merrin - St George-Illawarra Dragons
15 Luke Lewis - Penrith Panthers
16 Ben Creagh - St George-Illawarra Dragons
17 Anthony Watmough - Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Coach - Ricky Stuart
RICKY STUART MEDIA CALL
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