Sunday’s City-Country fixture threw a host of names on Laurie Daley’s State of Origin selection table, with a number of Indigenous stars pushing their claims.
Country went into the match heavily fancied; given the fact City had a record 10 debutants in their ranks, however Brad Fittler’s side proved too strong, running out 44-30 winners at Scully Park.
Nathan Peats pushed his claims for a New South Wales State of Origin jersey with a fine display from dummy half. With incumbent Origin hooker Robbie Farah showing indifferent form and Michael Ennis not considered for the City-County fixture, Peats looms as a real alternative.
Peats finished with a game high 34 tackles and was lively throughout, crossing for a try.
The hooker has been impressive for Parramatta in their surge up the table in 2016, a charge only diminished by the NRL’s salary cap penalties imposed on the club.
Aidan Sezer is another who caught the eye at Scully Park. The Canberra half formed an impressive combination with Chad Towsend. Sezer can play both half back and five eighth and is also a reliable goal kicker, as he showed on Sunday, kicking six conversions from eight attempts.
With conjecture surrounding the Origin claims of Trent Hodkinson and Mitchell Pearce, public support is growing for Sezer. He did those claims no harm with his performance on Sunday.
Tyrone Peachey made the most of his call-up to the City Origin starting side, forming a strong combination with his Penrith teammates, Bryce Cartwright, Regan Campbell-Gillard and Leilani Latu in the forward pack.
Fellow Panthers youngster Leilani Latu was another who showed he had potential to wear a NSW jersey in the future, running the most metres of any forward, with 171 metres.
It was Latu’s second taste of representative football for 2016, with the Panthers forward turning out for the Indigenous All-Stars earlier this year.
If Laurie Daley is looking to bolster his front row stocks or for someone providing an impact off the bench, Latu could be the answer.
Latu was just outdone for total metres by Country fullback Jack Wighton, who ran for 172 metres .
Wighton may be considered a long shot for State of Origin, with New South Wales possessing a host of fullback options; however the Canberra Raiders fullback will at least have put himself into the conversation.
With Blake Ferguson performing solidly for the Australian side and Greg Bird and James Robert also both firmly in selectors sights, its clear the New South Wales Origin side will have a distinct Indigenous flavour in 2016.