Fittler reveals 16 NSW spots up for grabs
NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler is convinced Luke Keary is now true-blue and says his combination with Blues skipper Boyd Cordner could give him the edge come selection time.
Keary's Origin eligibility was a point of contention following his NRL debut in 2013 after he initially wanted to represent Queensland, where he lived until he was 10.
The five-eighth even trained at a junior Maroons camp in 2012. With an injury to Penrith's Nathan Cleary and Mitchell Moses struggling to fire for the Eels, Keary is the in-form No.6 and has confirmed to Fittler his heart lies with NSW.
"He's a Blue, he's definitely a Blue," Fittler said on Tuesday at the launch of the opening State of Origin match at the MCG on June 6.
Veteran Blake Green has also been in career-best form, steering the Warriors to an unbeaten start to the NRL season, but Fittler said what could give Keary the edge was his combination with Cordner at the Sydney Roosters.
"The thing in Luke Keary's favour is that he defends next to Boyd Cordner and combinations are important," Fittler said.
The skipper also plumped for his teammate, saying the 26-year-old was playing with confidence at the Roosters alongside Queensland legend Cooper Cronk.
"Luke's been really good and he's taken his game to another level last year and the way he's started off this year," Cordner said.
"If he keeps improving and keeps playing the way he is, I'm sure he will be contention for an Origin spot for sure."
Fittler said he only had two spots firm in his mind - second-rower Cordner and prop Jordan McLean, before he was ruled out this week for three months with a foot injury.
While he's been impressed by the Dragons' pack he said if he had to name a halfback today, Penrith's James Maloney would get the nod.
"I'd take James Maloney after his game on the weekend, he was fantastic, and that's the only name I can say with any confidence," Fittler said.
Melbourne Storm flyer Josh Addo-Carr has also caught the coach's eye for his form on and off the field.
"I picked him in the city team last year and he's awesome not only with what he does on the field but he is also a great character to have around your team," Fittler said.
"He's an infectious sort of bloke so hopefully he keeps up that sort of form."