2022-04-16 07:15:00

Latrell Mitchell’s vacant centre spot in Brad Fittler’s NSW Blues side is being hotly contested, with a wealth of gun centres waiting in the wings.

The incumbent Rabbitohs fullback suffered a hamstring injury in Round 5, likely ruling him out for eight weeks and the Origin series opener on June 8, but opening a window for a debutant to emerge.

While a number of contenders have put their hand up to take over in the Blues edge including 2020 squad member Stephen Crichton, NRL legend Ryan Girdler believes one man’s recent form should see him score an Origin berth.

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“It is going to be hard to dent Kotoni Stagg’s form of late,” Girlder said on Triple M’s The Saturday Scrum.

“I think a lot of his form often gets overlooked, Crichton has been in great touch and he contributes on a weekly basis, he is really consistent, he is a great defensive player and is always looking for work and has a great attitude towards the game.

“He is certainly going to be there or thereabouts, but the way that Kotoni has just single-handedly sort of dismantled the opposition in two consecutive weeks against some quality talented players, he is going to be pushing for a spot as well.”

While Staggs started the season slowly, he kicked off his rich vein of form with a blistering run against the Roosters, with a trademark fend to throw centre Paul Momirovski from his path.

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Kotoni Staggs showed what he is capable with in a barnstorming run in Round 5, fending off the Roosters’ Paul Momirovski. NRL PhotosSource: Supplied

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Then against the Panthers, Staggs was almost the most dangerous player on the field despite his side losing 40-12.

The 23-year-old had a game-high seven tackle breaks, a try assist and a try, having a hand in both of his team’s four pointers.

Meanwhile, Crichton has been on fire to kick of the 2022 season, scoring three tries in six games and averaging 125 run metres per game.

Crichton was included in the 2020 NSW Blues squad, but failed to find a spot in 2021 as Rabbitohs centre Campbell Graham was picked in the extended squad to begin the series.

The South Sydney edge back is the quiet achiever in the race for the vacant No.3 jersey.

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Graham has recorded three tries in six games in 2022, as well as 122 running metres per game, five line breaks and a try assist.

Dragons centre Zac Lomax is also a contender, being a talented centre with Origin experience, having been picked in Fittler’s extended squad in 2020 after an injury to Tom Trbojevic.

Bulldogs playmaker Matt Burton could be another option, having switched to the halves after his premiership winning season in the centres with the Panthers.

Burton was arguably the best centre in the competition in 2021 and could be an option for Brad Fittler’s side, already having a connection with likely halves partnership Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai.

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Source by [graycupnews.com]

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