All set for Origin
UNLIKE Jamie Lyon, Gold Coast Titans co-captain Luke Bailey never wanted to shirk representative footy and was “filthy” that the claim had been circulated.
His Titans team-mate Mat Rogers said the hard-nosed prop was quoted out of context in a newspaper article last year that “made him look like he didn't care” about rep footy.
Bailey has been rewarded for a strong start to 2009 with NRL ladder leaders the Gold Coast by being included in a 40-strong NSW preliminary Origin squad this week.
He was named alongside Lyon - despite the Manly centre's request to be exempt from representative football this season.
However, Rogers said Bailey never wanted to follow in Lyon's footsteps. Rogers had hoped that Bailey would not be ignored by NSW selectors in 2009 because of the confusion over the Titans leader's rep aspirations.
“He never put his hand down for Origin,” Rogers said.
“There was a story written about him last year and he was misquoted.
“It was totally out of context. It was ridiculous.
“I remember when the story came out, Bails was filthy.
“He loves playing for NSW, and it made him look like he didn't care - and I know he cares.
“I hope he gets another crack at it (and the selectors don't ignore him) because of that stuff that was written.”
So far, so good for Bailey who made the initial, new-look NSW squad ahead of the likes of Willie Mason, Mark O'Meley and Nathan Hindmarsh.
Titans coach John Cartwright all but ruled Bailey out of the Titans' Monday night clash at Penrith due to a knee injury.
But he believed Bailey was just what NSW needed as they tried to stop Queensland winning a fourth straight Origin series.
While Cartwright acknowledged NSW needed some new faces, he warned against blooding too many against Queensland.
“Where Queensland have got it right is that Origin is a totally different type of game to club footy,” he said.
“They have to pick players that are hardened for State of Origin and can jump up to that level.
“If you pick too many new guys in one hit it is very hard to win the game.
“Guys like Bailey, Hindmarsh - I would give them a crack and mix in a few new guys.
“If they go in with all new guys it is a recipe for disaster.”
Cartwright said Bailey had made it clear that he wanted to taste Origin again after sitting down with the inspirational forward recently.
“I just don't think he was comfortable (with the thought that) he finished his rep career,” Cartwright said yesterday.
“He got an injury last year and didn't finish the season off at all.
“With a fresh approach, an off season under his belt, Queensland winning three in a row - it all added up for him wanting to have another crack at it.”
Bailey was named in the NSW squad alongside Titans team-mates Mark Minichiello and Anthony Laffranchi.
“It's great recognition. Where we are sitting on the competition table it probably demands that we get a few players in Origin,” said Cartwright who will take up the role of NSW City coach this season.
“And Queensland will probably have Harro (Ashley Harrison) and Princey (Scott Prince).
“We will have a few busy boys over the next eight weeks.'