Sharks stars deserve Origin selection says coach

Melissa Woods |

Sharks’ Cameron McInnes, on the ball, deserves Origin selection, reckons Cronulla’s coach.
Sharks’ Cameron McInnes, on the ball, deserves Origin selection, reckons Cronulla’s coach.

After securing top spot on the NRL ladder, Cronulla coach Craig Fitzgibbon wants to see more of his players rewarded with a representative call-up, including skipper Cameron McInnes.

The veteran forward was key to the Sharks’ 25-18 victory over Melbourne on Saturday, spending time at halfback in the absence of the injured Nicho Hynes, at hooker and also at lock.

It’s this versatility and his workrate, lodging more than 40 tackles, that has his coach plumping for his selection in the NSW Origin team.

McInnes, 30, has been part of an extended squad in the past and was chosen for a 36-man camp earlier this year led by new coach Michael Maguire.

“As far as Origin qualities go, what more do you want in a player?” Fitzgibbon said of McInnes.

“Cam can actually play a number of different roles there at that level too.

“He’s displayed Origin-like qualities for a long time now so I’d love to see him get a crack.”

Centre Jesse Ramien was among the Cronulla tryscorers and is believed to also be in the selection mix.

Fitzgibbon, who himself played 11 Origin games for NSW, said the experience of playing at the elite level could only be a positive for his players.

“For a number of reasons, the experience they gain and obviously playing at the elite level, is beneficial to your team,” he said.

“There’s a bit of bit of work to do in and around the period when you lose players, but it’s worth it because they get better from the experience and who doesn’t want to have the privilege of coaching someone and they end up playing Origin.

“I think it would be awesome for them and the way some of them are going, they won’t let anyone down.”

Star halfback Hynes missed the top-of-the-table battle, pulling out after their captain’s run with a calf complaint.

Hynes was in the Cronulla coaches’ box for the match and later told Fox Sports he hoped to only miss the one match and then return to push his case for a Blues Origin recall for the Sydney opener.

“It’s going to be a day-to-day process and it would have been too much of a risk today but hopefully I can get up for next week,” he said.

“I’ve just been focusing the Sharks and getting us at the top of the ladder and I feel like I’ve done a really good job to get us into that position, helped by my teammates.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready to pull on a jersey in the halves and play six with Nathan or seven if he’s out.

“I feel like I’ve done what I could … and hopefully I can get back and play some good footy to get picked.”