Cronulla Sharks coach urges NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler to pick Matt Prior


But it’s the only Origin game he has played to date and Prior can stake an undeniable claim with a strong performance for the red-hot Sharks against the Raiders in Canberra on Thursday night.

“It was great that he got that one game last year, but I think he would definitely love another shot at it,” Morris said.

It was great that he got that one game last year, but I think he would definitely love another shot at it

John Morris

“It’s one area NSW may need to make a change in given they dropped game one. I know what he will give them. He’ll compete, he’ll run hard and do all the things you want your front-rowers to do. If they’re after someone who is going to get the job done and compete really hard [it’s him].

“He’s really good with his efforts and energy in defence and I thought he was really good last week against a strong Parramatta pack. He won’t take a backward step. This is a big game if he wants to put his name in the picture.”

Fittler is due to name his team for the Optus Stadium clash on Sunday night. The NSW squad will fly across the Nullarbor on Monday.

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Four-gamer Paul Vaughan will be the most experienced NSW front-rower given teenager Payne Haas was selected to make his debut at Suncorp Stadium with just 10 NRL games under his belt.

Asked about the absence of NSW’s most destructive forward Klemmer, Vaughan said: “I was devastated to hear he broke his wrist. He’s obviously one of the best props in the game and a massive part of NSW.

“It’s definitely massive shoes to fill, [but] I felt good last game. I felt like I’m finding my feet there at representative football. [Origin I] was definitely the best Origin that I’ve played so far.”

Morris is preparing to welcome Shaun Johnson back into the Sharks fold after the club’s marquee signing injured his hamstring way back in round seven.

It has sparked speculation Kyle Flanagan would be tempted to switch to the Roosters, but Morris insisted the young half was a vital part of Cronulla’s future.

“As far as I can see, it’s been all speculation. I’m not going to comment because I’ve had no approach,” Morris said. “All I can say is Kyle is here on a contract [until the end of 2021] and is a huge part of this team as you can see with his performances and what he’s done for the club.

“No one has approached me about it, I’m a bit shocked it’s been getting the run it has in the media. He’s a valued member of this team and we like what he’s doing for us.”

Morris will consider alternating centres Josh Morris and Bronson Xerri after the latter starred on the left in the NSW representative’s absence against the Eels last week.

Josh Morris has started the year on the left for the Sharks, but was parachuted back into the NSW fold on the right for the Blues’ loss at Suncorp Stadium.

The Sharks have won their last six matches at Canberra Stadium.

Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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