Noddy stakes Origin claim

Noddy stakes Origin claim

VETERAN halfback Brett Kimmorley believes he has done enough to deserve a recall to the NSW Origin team – and last night publicly appealed to the selectors to name him at No.7 over young guns Peter Wallace, Mitchell Pearce and Jarrod Mullen.
Nanjing Night Net

Four years after his wild pass allowed Matt Bowen to intercept and score the winning try in golden-point extra time in the first game of the 2005 Origin series, the 32-year-old Kimmorley said he was a smarter footballer than ever before.

While rising stars Wallace and Pearce shared the No.7 jumper last year, Kimmorley feels he has matured to again be a force at representative level, and believes his combination with Bulldogs hooker Michael Ennis would be a boost to the Blues’ hopes of avoiding a record fourth series defeat.

Kimmorley believes Origin selectors have forgiven him for that disastrous pass in 2005.

"I got to play again after the intercept," he said. "I played two games [in 2007 Origin series] after I threw the intercept so it obviously meant I didn’t have a line through my name.

"I’m enjoying footy. I think I’m smarter, which means you sit back and assess things a lot better. I’m not dominant any more. I think now we’ve got a good No.9 here [Ennis], who will probably be the NSW hooker. That might help all our causes. He’s playing great. If he doesn’t play for NSW then I think they’re not looking for a bloke that is aggressive and competitive and meet any challenges thrown at him."

In 2007, Kimmorley was granted a reprieve by then Origin coach Ricky Stuart, who selected him for games two and three after Mullen was injured. He was part of the 18-4 win in game three. The veteran halfback has played 15 Tests and eight Origin games.

Yesterday, Kimmorley was heavily involved in the demolition of Parramatta and scored a try, sprinting 75 metres in the 75th minute. The Bulldogs won 48-18.

While he might have been distracted by the hype of Origin in the past, Kimmorley believes he has the poise to handle the big games better.

"I think it’s just suited to handling better occasions," he said. "So it’s not so fast and frantic any more. I heard ‘Gus’ [ Herald pundit Phil Gould] say that I play better in the wet because you have to slow everything down. Maybe [I] can take some advice on board, where maybe when I was younger it was all one hundred mile an hour."

Kimmorley enjoyed a glowing endorsement by Bulldogs chairman George Peponis, who dubbed him the form halfback in the game this year, while coach Kevin Moore also backed his No.7.

"If they pick him, he certainly won’t let them down," Moore said. "He’s a champion competitor and he’s achieved everything. If they happen to pick him, I’d be rapt for him. He’d certainly do NSW proud.

"Experience and knowledge are a great thing. You certainly get smarter between the years, and ‘Noddy’ is smarter than most."

Bulldogs fullback Luke Patten said the fierce halfback would enliven the NSW team, adding that if the Dragons’ Wendell Sailor’s name was being bandied about for Origin selection then why not Noddy.

"You know what you’re going to get with him, he’s a tenacious little bugger," Patten said. "It’s always weird, I always used to hate playing against him, because you always knew what you were going to get with Noddy; the kick-chase, he’s always in there. He doesn’t care how big you are. You saw today he tried to put a shot on Fuifui [Moimoi] at the end. I know he’s been talking himself up. I don’t know if there’s many 40-year-olds that can play Origin. If they’re talking big Wendell up then why not Noddy? He’s been doing a great job for us. He’s really enjoying his footy as well."

It could be the series of the veterans with the 34-year-old Sailor being endorsed by Queensland coach Mal Meninga at the weekend.

"He’s every sort of chance if he keeps playing really well and keeps gaining good metres," Meninga said. "Who knows? His opportunity might arise."