Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Bum Rap for Blues with Skipper to Be Sidelined

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Bum Rap for Blues with Skipper to Be Sidelined

Article excerpt

Byline: WAYNE HEMING APN SPORTS BUREAU

Possible teams:

QLD: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Justin Hodges, Greg Inglis, Will Chambers, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (c), Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Aidan Guerra, Corey Parker. Inter: Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Maguire, Josh Papalii, Jacob Lillyman. 18th man: Dylan Napa.

NSW: Josh Dugan, Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Alex Johnston, James Maloney, Trent Hodkinson, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah (c), James Tamou, Ryan Hoffman, Beau Scott, Trent Merrin. Inter: Luke Lewis, Josh Reynolds, Andre Fifita, David Klemmer.

NEW South Wales might be able to replace Paul Gallen's work-rate with busy lock Trent Merrin, but how on earth do the Blues compensate for the loss of his leadership, passion and inspiration in the opening game of this year's State of Origin series in Sydney on May 27?

That's the challenge now facing Blues coach Laurie Daley, left with the dilemma with serious medical concerns that Gallen's rare buttocks tear suffered a month ago could prove season or even career-threatening if he tried to play Origin I.

Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah, will now take over the captaincy in Gallen's absence as NSW attempt to defend the Origin shield which took them nine years to win back from Queensland.

"After talking, Gal and I decided it is in the best interests of the team to get the injury healed," Daley said after the tough call was made.

"It was a really difficult decision for us both to come to because Gal, as captain, is such an important part of our team, and he places such a high value on playing for NSW."

Gallen, who still wants to be part of the Blues' build-up to Origin I, revealed doctors had warned him if he played and tore the muscle again it could be season-ending.

"Maybe even career ending, who knows? …

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