Even Victor Radley rated himself a long, long shot to make the NSW squad for Origin II.
But the Roosters enforcer has vowed to do everything he can to help the Blues prepare for Sunday night’s clash as he patiently waits for his own Origin debut.
Radley has long been tipped as a Blues star in the making, but injuries and suspensions over the past couple of years have stymied his chances. He has not been sighted since round 10 because of an ankle injury which, it was originally feared, would keep him out until the middle of next month.
But Radley revealed he almost returned against Parramatta on the weekend, will definitely start against the premiers in a fortnight, and would certainly not be a strapped-up spectator at Blues training this week in Perth.
It is a bit left-field I’m here given I haven’t played yet [since the injury], Radley told the Herald. Even though I’m not playing this week, it’s just good to be here.
Freddy [Fittler] rang me. He must have spoken to the physios and coaches [at the Roosters], and I told him I was fit and healthy and ready to play this week if he needed me to. I was close to playing against Parra, it just didn’t pan out.
He said, ‘Mate, I’d love to bring you along, I think you can add something’. I was blown away, and it showed a lot of trust from Freddy.
Radley ruptured his ACL in 2020, then served a lengthy ban after being placed on report four times and sin-binned twice during a wild night against the Brisbane Broncos, ruling him out of the 2021 Origin series opener.
Fittler has always loved Radley because of his knockabout personality and fiercely competitive nature in games and at training. The Bronte local was right in the mix this season until he suffered the syndesmosis injury against the Eels.
It’s frustrating at the time when it happens, but I’m only 24, and I don’t dwell on it much, Radley said. I’ve only played 80 or so NRL games, so I’ve got time. Everything happens for a reason. I’ll work hard and train hard and even though I’m not playing, I’ll do everything I can to help here this week. My ankle is as good as gold, and I’ll be playing Penrith in two weeks.
While much has been made about the seven Panthers in the NSW starting side, the Roosters have their own heavy representation in the 22-man squad with Radley, Joseph Suaalii, skipper James Tedesco, Daniel Tupou and recalled forward Angus Crichton.
Suaalii, like Radley, will make his NSW debut in the coming years, and has a giant fan in Radley.
He just flattens blokes, he’s a freak, and he will be freak for the next 15 to 20 years, Radley said. I enjoy watching him no matter what he does; [it helps] he’s good looking.
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