2022-06-11 04:39:00

Despite his notable dip in form this season, NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler “desperately wanted” Newcastle Knights star Daniel Saifiti in the team amid “contention” as to whether Reagan Campbell-Gillard was worthy of a starting berth.

Campbell-Gillard was a surprise starter in the Blues’ line-up in Game One of Origin last Wednesday, but he struggled to find his groove as NSW lost 16-10 to Queensland at Accor Stadium.

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Perhaps his disappointing performance was down to the fact that, according to the Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio, the Parramatta Eels star wasn’t even a nailed-on starter “three or four days” before Fittler had finalised his starting 13.

“Campbell-Gillard is an interesting player because he was never a firm selection,” Riccio said on Triple M.

“Three or four days before the team was picked, Campbell-Gillard is still an umm-ing and ah-ing selection within the Blues camp.

“It was the lack of that big body on the bench that ultimately, due to the fact that Daniel Saifiti was unavailable, that they decided to go down the Campbell-Gillard path.

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“I don’t know if he left the impression on the game that I would have thought.

“He had an opportunity, it’s only his second Origin game since 2018. I feel like he’s under some pressure to retain his position.”

Riccio elaborated on the selection mindset within the Blues camp in the days leading up to the opening Origin clash and revealed that not everyone was assured Campbell-Gillard was the right man for the starting role.

“There was a bit of contention within the Blues camp on whether Campbell-Gillard was the right choice a few days of selection,” Riccio said.

“That’s why Jacob Saifiti was a bit of a bolter to come into that squad because they were lacking that big body, that tall, big man in the shape of Daniel Saifiti.

“The Blues desperately wanted to pick Daniel Saifiti. They have so much respect for what he was able to produce over the past two series, but ultimately he suffered that knee injury in that final game.

“They were willing, despite his dip in form this year, to give him a shot if he produced something in that game he suffered the knee injury.

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Source by [graycupnews.com]

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