Grand shot at Origin spots
NSW coach Brad Fittler has declared he has seven more spots to fill in his State of Origin squad and Sunday's NRL grand final will help him finalise them.
The majority of Fittler's side is locked in but the Blues coach said he needs "centres and back rowers" and players from both Penrith and Melbourne can force their way into the Origin team with a standout display in the decider.
Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary is a lock to wear the number seven jersey for NSW but the likes of Isaah Yeo, Api Koroisau, Stephen Crichton and even Melbourne's Ryan Papenhuyzen are all in the mix for selection.
"There is an opportunity there for someone who has a big game," Fittler said.
"We've left ourselves some room. Whether the remaining positions come out of Melbourne or Penrith or out of one of the other teams that are gone from the finals.
"It gets a little bit stressful coming into the past couple of games because players improve and they jump out at you.
""We need centres and back-rowers. When you have a 27 (man squad), you also need people that can cover different positions."
Koroisau is an outsider for selection given the Blues already have hookers Damien Cook and Cam McInnes in the squad, but Fitter is still keeping a close eye on the Penrith No.9.
Fittler is a huge fan of the Fijian born rake and won't rule out picking him for Origin if his form warrants selection.
"It all depends on the grand final," he said.
"He got a bit of a bump (last week against Souths), which would be a bit of a shame because he has been awesome. He has just got better and better.
"I remember his grand final for the Rabbits (in 2014) and I thought he was the best player on the field and the difference.
"It makes it hard, and that is when this style of picking players as you go can be get tough. "Some people are going to miss out, but I wish (Api) all the best on Sunday. "If he has a massive game, then he nearly demands that they pick him."
Koroisau's bid to play for the Blues could be boosted with Fittler confirming he could play McInnes in the forwards.
"Cam has had the luxury of playing a lot of lock this year with the Dragons, so there is a great opportunity for a bench spot," he said.
"He plays so tough, I can't believe it.
"He is so wholehearted, which is exactly what we want."
Fittler is expecting to use his full 27-man squad over the series' three consecutive weeks, starting with Game 1 in Adelaide on November 4.
"We used 25 players last year, and that was breaks," he said.
"The game can be brutal sometimes, plus the travel to Adelaide this year.
"It is good to have depth, but we've still got to be at our best and we need to push each other."
Originally published as Grand shot at Origin spots