Maroons coach Billy Slater says “age is only a number” when it comes to discussing young stars at the selection table.
Slater has exactly one week before he needs to submit his squad ahead of game one on June 8, and he admits emerging stars Selwyn Cobbo and Jeremiah Nanai are putting their hands up to be bolters.
Cobbo, who’s just 19 years old, recently had former Queensland coach Paul Vautin calling for his Origin selection following a hat-trick performance against Manly.
While Cobbo has only 18 NRL games to his name, he’s been arguably the best young star in the competition in recent weeks, scoring seven tries from Brisbane’s past three games, all of which have been wins.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old back-rower, Nanai, has been a try-scoring machine for the Cowboys with nine scored through 11 appearances this year.
“With age comes youth and exuberance, and you see that with the Cowboys at the moment,” Slater told Wide World of Sports’ Billy’s Breakdown.
“The one thing they don’t have is experience. But you don’t get experience unless you get an opportunity.”
Slater said that while the highlights moments both young stars produce are exciting, it’s the effort plays that he values more than anything when it comes to selecting talent.
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“The one thing I have been looking at is consistent actions on the field,” Slater added.
“Not just the highlights Selwyn Cobbo and Jeremiah Nanai have been producing, it’s the effort actions, the defensive actions, bringing the ball out of trouble.
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“Doing a lot of the things the team sees, but not necessarily what we focus on on TV.
“They’ve been doing that, which is really good.
“Age is only a number to me if they’re doing those actions.”