True Blue Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach likes the look of the Parramatta connection Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard up front for the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues in 2022.
Paulo is an incumbent in coach Brad Fittler’s team and was a crucial part of the 2021 series-winning side; but Campbell-Gillard has not played for NSW since Game One, 2018.
Roach said Brisbane Broncos’ Payne Haas looks certain to retain his spot in Fittler’s forward pack and nominated the Eels duo as the best options to partner him in the starting side or off the bench.
“I love Junior Paulo and the way he mixes the game up,” Roach told Behind Blue Eyes for nswrl.com.au.
“He’s a play-two front rower, offloads the footy, and again that combination (with Eels teammate Campbell-Gillard).
“I don’t think there’s anyone in the game as a play-one front rower runs as hard as RCG. He’s a tearaway.
“The Saifiti brothers (Daniel and Jacob) also. Maybe Newcastle are a little bit down at the moment, but come State of Origin time, when you give those guys a jumper, they’ll put their hand up.”
Daniel has played seven times for NSW, but his twin Jacob is yet to wear the Blues jersey.
South Sydney second rower Keaon Koloamatangi was in Fittler’s extended squad last year and Roach believes he could take a step further this series due to his Rabbitohs form.
He makes an average 14 hit-ups for game, has three tries from seven outings with the Rabbitohs, and 15 tackle-breaks.
“Give him the football in good positions, and one-on-one, he’s a powerful runner of the footy,” Roach said.
“He played in the Grand Final last year, so he has plenty of confidence. He would not be out of his depth if he played State of Origin.
“Cam Murray has one second-row spot tied up already… so I reckon there’s one spot in the back row so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.”