Legendary Blues Hookers Back Farah
This article first appeared on NRL.com.
Three of NSW's greatest dummy-halves have unanimously agreed incumbent Blues rake Robbie Farah deserves another go at State of Origin this year with no other candidate standing out and demanding to take his spot.
Titans' No.9 Nathan Peats has been playing strongly and seems the logical heir apparent while Penrith veteran Peter Wallace is a big chance to play, according to recent reports. NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley recently nominated those two along with the Dragons' Cameron McInnes and Sea Eagles' Api Koroisau as players under consideration for the role.
Newcastle legend Danny Buderus was a successful Blues hooker and one of the state's most-capped players and captains, and he told NRL.com that while Farah appears the logical choice, much will come down to the style of game Daley wants to play.
"Peats plays that style that would really suit Origin and he wouldn't let anyone down given the opportunity but at the same time you can understand why Laurie will probably go with a tried performer like Farah," Buderus said.
"If he wants to play the style with the dummy half getting out and bringing those shapes around the ruck like Robbie does really well then obviously Laurie will go that way.
"But if he sees there's another way of exploiting someone in Queensland he might go with Peats or McInnes but those guys will probably be the future, they're only pretty young."
Buderus said there was no question Farah was still up to the task despite playing much of this season off the bench for a struggling South Sydney – as evidenced by his last-start match-winning 80-minute effort against former club Wests Tigers.
"Everyone's talking about his minutes and how long he's been playing this year but he'll be okay because he's been through that arena many times before," Buderus said.
"That part will come down to Laurie and how he wants to play, especially with the six and seven. The nine, six, seven and one are so important for his team. There's a new breed, a new fresh feel about it and a confident one as well.
"If someone was jumping out in that [No.9] position there might have been a chance, if Peats was saying 'pick me' like Robbie was when he first got his chance and he was at my heels, he was saying 'pick me, pick me'. No one is doing that at the moment."
Balmain great Benny Elias has long been a vocal supporter of fellow Tiger Farah and that hasn't waned with Farah's 2017 shift to Redfern. Surprisingly, Elias said he would be content with Peats to move into the role this year but added he wouldn't change Farah from No.9 until someone better emerged – which hasn't happened yet.
"Timing is everything and Robbie Farah's timing last week – he put his best performance in," Elias told NRL.com.
"He had his back to the wall, he's been under extreme pressure to wear the No.9 for the Rabbitohs. He got the chance last week, he showed us how complete of a footballer he is.
"If you're going to replace him you're going to have to replace him with someone better and I don't know if there's anyone better.
"On the other side, if Laurie's looking for something different, you go for youth and there's Nathan Peats. He's only been back a couple of weeks but he's certainly a star in the making. I wouldn't be fazed whichever way Laurie went."
Elias also had strong support for the man who had been keeping Farah on the Souths bench in Damien Cook.
"To keep Robbie on the bench wearing the No.14 jersey, [Cook]'s got to be a special player. He's tough, I like him, he's sharp, he's very complete when it comes to vision with football."
Manly legend Max Krilich – captain of the 1982 Kangaroos 'Invincibles' and NSW hooker for five games in 1982-1983 – said Farah is still the best choice.
"If there was a young bouncing Benny Elias coming through as a young 19 or 20 year old you'd say 'look at this whiz kid, how good is he' and you'd pick him," Krilich said.
"But none of them stand out, the young ones. They're not up to Robbie's stature.
"They're good but they're not setting the world on fire like Benny when he came through. At least you know what Robbie's going to do. He played very well [last week], 80 minutes, that was a big effort."