Infotainment Factory: How Joey would solve big NSW headache

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Thursday, 16 May 2019

How Joey would solve big NSW headache


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Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns has played down Clint Gutherson's chances of making the NSW side even as he leaves behind contract distractions that have cast a long shadow over his season with Parramatta.

Gutherson's future has been a constant source of speculation for the first 10 weeks of the season, with the Eels and their club captain both criticised for playing out the negotiations in public following an initial 'low-ball' offer that enraged the 24-year-old and his management.

The at times ugly saga caught the eye of NSW coach Brad Fittler, who last year put in place a brand new selection framework that favours players in winning sides and without off-field distractions.

That would almost certainly have stopped the Blues picking Gutherson, even if he was viewed as the best candidate to fill the right centre position that has become a huge headache with incumbent James Roberts languishing in reserve grade and potential replacements Tom Trbojevic, Joey Leilua and Jack Bird all sidelined by injuries.

Having finally agreed to a three-year extension with the Eels on Thursday, Gutherson is back in the frame for an Origin debut but legendary NSW halfback Johns says there's another strong reason to overlook him.

"I think that right centre has to be a specialised position because defensively the centre has to make really strong decisions," Johns told Wide World of Sports' Immortal Behaviour.

"If you're going to play right centre at Origin level, that's the side Kalyn Ponga likes to play (down the left hand side for Queensland), so you're going to have to be on your game defensively on that side."

Johns is a close confidante of Fittler's, so his opinion on the type of player likely to get first crack at right centre can be considered a strong guide for what the NSW coach is thinking.

If the Blues brain trust decides that the right centre who is picked needs to be a specialist, the selection call is likely to come down to a choice between the youth and undoubted talent of Jesse Ramien versus the reliability and experience of Josh Morris.

The other option would be to ignore Roberts' obvious troubles at the Broncos and take a punt on his game-breaking abilities despite his axing to reserve grade.

Click on the video below to watch the full episode of Immortal Behaviour!

Keary is locked in: Immortal Behaviour

The preference for a specialist at centre would likely leave Gutherson to scrap for the bench utility role, with Raiders star Jack Wighton and form Rabbitohs half Cody Walker also putting struggling incumbent Tyrone Peachey under pressure.

Meanwhile, Johns said there was still one position up for grabs in the NSW spine after adamantly declaring that Luke Keary would be the first half picked, adding to a potent left side packed full of his Roosters teammates Boyd Cordner, Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco chiming in from the back.

"I think everyone can see that Keary's locked in on that left side and Tedesco and Cook pick themselves," Johns said.

"It's just the right side, who they pick at the right-side half, whether it's half or five-eighth on there, and the right centre is the big decision."

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns has played down Clint Gutherson's chances of making the NSW side even as he leaves behind contract distractions that have cast a long shadow over his season with Parramatta.

Gutherson's future has been a constant source of speculation for the first 10 weeks of the season, with the Eels and their club captain both criticised for playing out the negotiations in public following an initial 'low-ball' offer that enraged the 24-year-old and his management.

The at times ugly saga caught the eye of NSW coach Brad Fittler, who last year put in place a brand new selection framework that favours players in winning sides and without off-field distractions.

That would almost certainly have stopped the Blues picking Gutherson, even if he was viewed as the best candidate to fill the right centre position that has become a huge headache with incumbent James Roberts languishing in reserve grade and potential replacements Tom Trbojevic, Joey Leilua and Jack Bird all sidelined by injuries.

Having finally agreed to a three-year extension with the Eels on Thursday, Gutherson is back in the frame for an Origin debut but legendary NSW halfback Johns says there's another strong reason to overlook him.

"I think that right centre has to be a specialised position because defensively the centre has to make really strong decisions," Johns told Wide World of Sports' Immortal Behaviour.

"If you're going to play right centre at Origin level, that's the side Kalyn Ponga likes to play (down the left hand side for Queensland), so you're going to have to be on your game defensively on that side."

Johns is a close confidante of Fittler's, so his opinion on the type of player likely to get first crack at right centre can be considered a strong guide for what the NSW coach is thinking.

If the Blues brain trust decides that the right centre who is picked needs to be a specialist, the selection call is likely to come down to a choice between the youth and undoubted talent of Jesse Ramien versus the reliability and experience of Josh Morris.

The other option would be to ignore Roberts' obvious troubles at the Broncos and take a punt on his game-breaking abilities despite his axing to reserve grade.

Click on the video below to watch the full episode of Immortal Behaviour!

Keary is locked in: Immortal Behaviour

The preference for a specialist at centre would likely leave Gutherson to scrap for the bench utility role, with Raiders star Jack Wighton and form Rabbitohs half Cody Walker also putting struggling incumbent Tyrone Peachey under pressure.

Meanwhile, Johns said there was still one position up for grabs in the NSW spine after adamantly declaring that Luke Keary would be the first half picked, adding to a potent left side packed full of his Roosters teammates Boyd Cordner, Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco chiming in from the back.

"I think everyone can see that Keary's locked in on that left side and Tedesco and Cook pick themselves," Johns said.

"It's just the right side, who they pick at the right-side half, whether it's half or five-eighth on there, and the right centre is the big decision."

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