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Aussie Warriors struggle to push Origin claims

DAVID LONG
Last updated 11:41 25/05/2014

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Jacob Lillyman says Broncos, Titans and Cowboys players have an advantage in getting into the Queensland State of Origin side that he doesn't get at the Warriors.

The prop was unlucky to miss out on selection for Wednesday's Origin I at Suncorp Stadium as once again the Warriors fail to get a player in the game's biggest showpiece.

Lillyman's last appearance for Queensland was in 2011 and the Warriors are the only club not to have a player make an Origin team since then.

Feleti Mateo turned down the chance to play for Tonga at last year's World Cup in the hope that this would help him get selected for NSW, while Dane Nielsen fell out of contention for Queensland when he left the Storm.

While not criticising the selectors, Lillyman, who made his Origin debut in 2006 when playing for the Cowboys, says players who ply their trade inside the state benefit from getting extra exposure.

"It's a tough one," Lillyman told Sunday News.

"I know the selectors are always going to watch games live and there are the Broncos, Titans and Cowboys games [in Queensland].

"I know the Queensland-based players probably get their tyres pumped up a bit more and get their case pushed a bit harder, whereas over here no-one gives me that much of a chance, just because no-one sees our games I guess.

"I have every faith that the selectors watch our games and they've just stuck loyal," he said.

"I've shown in the past that you can make it playing for the Warriors, so I've got to keep my form going and if an opportunity arises then I'll grab it with both hands."

It will be interesting to see if Ryan Hoffman continues to be selected for NSW when he joins the Warriors next season and the club's management will be hoping as much as the player himself that he continues to wear a blue jersey three times a year.

It's hard enough to entice Australian players to the Warriors as it is and if it becomes increasingly clear that moving to New Zealand damages the chances of players representing their state, they'd be even less interested in making the move.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden though doesn't feel it's tougher for Auckland-based Australian players to get into Origin teams.

"I guess it's difficult because the majority of Warrior players aren't eligible for Queensland or NSW, so that puts us at a disadvantage," he said.

"But I don't think for the selectors there is any bias towards the Warriors players; it's probably more circumstantial than anything.

"I know the selectors take a lot of care with their team and that they were looking at Jacob.

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"They've decided a different way and that's fine, but I know they're thorough with their selection process.

"It's not dissimilar to Melbourne, they can be out of sight out of mind and there's no problem with that side."

- Sunday News

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