NSW Origin greats Phil Gould and Paul Gallen have butted heads over whether the Blues should select Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen.
Blues coach Brad Fittler has so far named 20 individuals as he gets set to finalise a 27-man squad at the conclusion of Sunday’s NRL grand final.
GF combatants Melbourne and Penrith will fill the seven remaining spots. Gould and Galled both listed their picks from the Storm and Panthers.
Gould, a former Blues coach who won six Origin series, said Panthers veteran James Tamou should be recalled into the squad. Tamou, 31, last played for the Blues back in 2016 and has 14 matches to his name.
“Experience,” Gould told Nine’s 100% Footy. “You want another middle player with experience and that could be an important part.”
But where Gould and Gallen couldn’t come to an agreement was the selection of Papenhuyzen. Gallen took aim at Gould for leaving out the Storm fullback.
Gallen: “The one I had which Gus didn’t is Ryan Papenhuyzen.
“I’ve got to ask Gus, what’s the go with Ryan Papenhuyzen? Ryan Papenhuyzen has got X-factor. He’s been outstanding for the Storm and he’s probably the second-best fullback in the competition.
“You don’t have him in your squad. Did you have an issue with Papenhuyzen?”
Gould: “Well, I looked at the squad and they’ve got James Tedesco and Clint Gutherson. Why do we need another fullback in the squad?”
Gallen: “Because he’s probably been the second-best fullback all year and Gutherson can play in the centres.”
Gould: “But Gutherson mightn’t play in the centres.”
Gallen: “Is he going to play in front of Tedesco?”
Gould: “Stephen Crichton might play in the centres, you never know.
“What I’m saying is, they’ve got fullback covered. Papenhuyzen can only play fullback, that’s all he can play.”
Gallen: “He can’t play No.14?”
Gould: “Well, you have Tedesco. Tedesco’s going to play, and you’ve got Gutherson there if you need another fullback.”
Gallen: “You’re telling me Papenhuyzen wouldn’t be really hard to handle in the last 10 minutes of each half?”
Gould: “Of course he would. Brilliant footballer.
“Who said I’m off him? What I’m looking at – they’ve already got two fullbacks in the squad. I actually looked at the other 20 players.”
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Gallen: “I looked at the other 20 players as well.”
Gould: “Well if you did, you would’ve seen they’ve got two fullbacks. Why did you have to pick another fullback?”
Gallen: “I’ve answered that question five times already. Gutherson’s going to play in the centres. I picked him (Papenhuyzen) because he’s been outstanding all year.”
Gould: “Well, drop Tedesco [from your list] and put him in.”
Gallen: “Come on, that’s just being silly now.”
Papenhuyzen has long been touted as a bench utility option for the Blues, as well as a shadow fullback for Tedesco.
Gould and Gallen’s picks overlapped except in two cases, one being Tamou/Papenhuyzen. Gus opted for Penrith bench prop Moses Leota, who Fittler has openly backed as a bolter, while Gallen said that Panthers back-rower Liam Martin deserved a crack after a breakout season.