Origin a chance for Mitch Rein

Mike Cooper celebrates his try for the Dragons against the Warriors at WIN Jubilee Stadium on Saturday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Mike Cooper celebrates his try for the Dragons against the Warriors at WIN Jubilee Stadium on Saturday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES


Mitch Rein was reluctant to be drawn on the subject, but coach Steve Price didn't have any trouble spruiking St George Illawarra's rugged hooker as a Blues bolter.

As Laurie Daley wrestles with the selection headache triggered by Robbie Farah's dislocated elbow, a stellar 80-minute performance from Rein against the Warriors couldn't have been better timed.

Bulldogs rake Michael Ennis is thought to have the inside running if Farah fails to recover in time for State of Origin I.

But Rein added his name to a list which includes Newcastle utility Kurt Gidley and in-form Parramatta recruit Nathan Peats in the race for the NSW No 9.

"I was really proud of Mitch Rein's effort," Price said after the hooker laid on two tries in the 20-10 win, one via sleight of hand and another from the boot.

"If he keeps going like that he's certainly going to put his hand up to be in contention for that Sky Blues jersey."

Rein was on the brink of being a late call-up to the Country squad for their clash against City two years ago, but was ruled out as a replacement for Danny Buderus with injury.

Quizzed on whether a leap into the Origin cauldron was on his radar after Farah's injury, Rein said: "Robbie will probably be back. He's a great player and I can't really worry about those things.

"I'm just concentrating on my performances for the Dragons and getting us going in the right direction."

Given Price's preference to gift Kyle Stanley time in the NSW Cup as he amps up his comeback from a fourth knee reconstruction, Rein has taken the step to be the Dragons' 80-minute warrior.

He filled the role admirably in the loss to the Storm, but went to another level in the gritty win against the Warriors at WIN Jubilee Oval on Saturday night.

"I'm enjoying it, but it's a bit tough at times," he said.

"I just think it comes naturally and it's more a mental thing keeping yourself pushing forward.

"Playing week to week like that really helps you mentally for playing 80 minutes later on in the season."

The Kiama junior won't be the only one looking to push his representative claims in the Anzac Day blockbuster against the world champion Roosters.

After getting a points decision over Warriors behemoth and incumbent Kiwis winger Manu Vatuvei, Jason Nightingale has the chance to shine against New Zealand's other winger from the World Cup final, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

"That would be great [to play in the Anzac Test], but the first thing on my radar is Anzac Day," Nightingale said.

"I love the occasion and I'll go out and enjoy myself there and whatever happens after that happens.

"It would be great to be a part of that team, but first and foremost there's no bigger round game on the calendar for the Dragons than Anzac Day and I'm sure the Roosters feel the same."


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