The Daily Telegraph’s Dave Riccio and Michael Carayannis take a look at round three and offer their tips for every match
IN five days time Laurie Daley will get a clear guide as to who will wear the NSW No. 7 jersey in State of Origin game one.
Adam Reynolds and Mitchell Pearce — provided they survive today’s club games — will lock horns at ANZ Stadium when South Sydney clash with the Sydney Roosters.
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Pearce is the reborn playmaker who has burst out of the blocks this season at the Roosters.
Reynolds returned from an appendix operation to guide Souths to victory over Manly last weekend. He featured in the opening two games for the Blues last year before a knee injury forced him out of the third game.
Both men are tough, energetic, possess brilliant kicking games and are premiership winners.
For Reynolds, 26, playing Origin again holds even greater appeal than pulling on the Kangaroos jersey.
He will pose a real threat when Souths take on Newcastle in the Hunter this afternoon.
“Origin is the pinnacle of the game, and representing NSW for two games last year was one of the proudest moments for me and my family,’’ Reynolds said.
“Pearcey has jumped out of the blocks quickly with (Luke) Keary and they’re playing out of their skin, and it’s a credit to them because they would have worked hard in the pre-season.
“But I can only worry about my own performance.
“I want to play Origin again, win more grand finals, and improve as a player and person around this club — it’s not necessarily 100 per cent my No. 1 goal to make Australia.
“I’m in my fifth or sixth season in the top grade now, I’ve played Origin, won a grand final, and it’s now about getting that consistency week in week out and performing at the top of my game like your Thurstons and Cronks each week.
“If you look at a team like Melbourne, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, even Will Chambers who has been there a while now, they’re all passing on a legacy.
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“That’s what every great player does. They leave behind a jersey at their club and set expectations for other players to follow.
“I’m occupying this jersey now, but eventually someone will take over, and I want to leave this club in good hands.’’
Reynolds, who is staying put at Redfern until at least the end of 2021, was a welcome boost for Souths at Lottoland, especially after the round-one horror show against the Wests Tigers.
One thing in Reynolds favour in terms of the Origin puzzle is Robbie Farah, the new Souths hooker who brings up 250 NRL games in Newcastle, and is also the Blues’ only genuine dummy-half option.
Blues coach Daley told The Daily Telegraph that club combinations such as Reynolds and Farah could be viewed favourably at the selection table, especially if Souths were performing well.
The same rule could apply to Pearce and his reluctant NSW Roosters halves partner Luke Keary.
Reynolds pulled up fine after his early return from appendicitis. He said he had felt comfortable with five-eighth Cody Walker ‘’from day one’’, and they had continued to build on their combination.
Originally published as Reynolds, Pearce set for Origin showdown