Lang on League: Penrith’s bolts from the Blue

Is it too early to feel ‘Blue’?

Probably not and while we’re only up to round five, already rugby league commentators are talking about possible New South Wales and Queensland line-ups for this year’s state-vs-state, mate-vs-mate Origin series.

Allowing for injury there will be up to eight Penrith players considered to play for NSW including Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Brian To’o, Isaah Yeo and Liam Martin.

However, I’m not going to talk about the credentials of the players named above, their resumes already speak for themselves.

I’d like to instead highlight two Panthers, who I believe will push hard over the next seven weeks, to earn a place in the 19-man Blues squad. I truly believe these two players have a legitimate shot at making the cut.

Of course, I’m talking about Izack Tago and Sunia Turuva, whose scintillating form is already catching the eye, of not only rugby league supporters but NSW selectors and coach Michael ‘Madge’ Maguire as well.

Sunia Turuva and Izack Tago. Photo: NRL Photos.

If even one of the two players can make it, they really will be an Origin bolter or a ‘Bolt from the Blue’ if you will, as neither player was even selected in Madge’s 36-man Blues camp earlier this year.

It doesn’t matter that both Tago (Samoa) and Turuva (Fiji) have played for their respective nations as this does not rule them out of NSW Origin contention. For the record Tago played his junior footy for St Marys while Turuva turned out for the Berala Bears in NSW.

With their eligibility established, form will be the next criteria which will determine their selection. So far, even after only four rounds, both players have put their hand-up!

Turuva is coming off a stunning three-try performance against the Roosters last week and currently leads the NRL try scorers list with six tries, while Tago has been the form centre of the competition putting up crazy numbers while scoring three tries of his own.

For good measure Tago also leads the league with eight line breaks.
Now while both Tago and Turuva look like being at least in the conversation for the Blues, the other Penrith player which deserves to be selected and picked at fullback is Dylan Edwards.

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards. Photo: NRL Photos.

There’s no doubt current NSW captain James Tedesco is far from a spent force but his numbers just don’t stack up when put up against Edwards.

Currently Edwards leads the NRL in the following stats. He is number one in ‘All Runs’ with 100, number one in ‘Run Metres’ with 1,013 and number one in ‘Kick Return Metres’ with 461.

He’s also second on the Dally M Player of the Year Leaderboard after four rounds with 11 points.

Now I know statistics don’t tell the whole story but in the Edwards case, they don’t have to. Blind Freddy (not you Brad) could see he deserves to take the custodian position.

Yes, I know there’s still seven weeks to go before the side is even selected and anything can happen but you’ve got to start talking about these sort of selections now.

Waiting until later may be too late.

New Blues coach Michael Maguire. Photo: NRL Photos.
Peter Lang

Peter Lang is an experienced sports writer, who has been covering rugby league for several decades. He first wrote Lang on League for the Weekender in the 1990s, and worked for Panthers on its famous Panthers Magazine for several years.