RUGBY LEAGUE: Cronulla forward Matt Prior has emerged as a bolter for the NSW State of Origin side with former NSW skipper Paul Gallen anointing him the man to take his spot in the Blues pack.
The Blues have an embarrassment of riches in the front row but Gallen echoed Sharks coach Shane Flanagan's calls for Prior to come into NSW coach Laurie Daley's side for the State of Origin series opener in Brisbane.
"I'm throwing his name up there as well," Gallen told the Sunday Footy Show.
"I think he's probably the best defensive forward in the competition. He just hits and he doesn't miss. He gets hold of you, we wrestle him at training and he just strangles you, he's that strong."
Wests Tigers skipper Aaron Woods, Canterbury big man David Klemmer and Cronulla's Andrew Fifita are considered the state's leading props while the likes of James Tamou, James Roberts, Shannon Boyd, Paul Vaughan and Jordan McLean are pushing their cases.
Prior, whose most recent representative appearence was for Country Origin in 2011, has averaged 77m per game this year and Gallen rates him one of the Sharks' hardest workers.
"He works his backside off in the gym," Gallen said. "I think his attack has gone to another level too, he makes metres.
"If anyone goes down, he could be there for sure. He could push himself into the side no doubt."
Selection in the NSW front row would cap a remarkable evolution for Prior who began his career under Wayne Bennett at St George Illawarra where he moonlighted in the centres for several years.
The 29-year-old last week signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him at the Sharks until the end of 2020.