NSW rubbishes Broncos’ Roberts call

NSW is reportedly still keen on selecting exiled Broncos’ star James Roberts for the State of Origin series opener.

With South Sydney reportedly closing the door on the speedster after weeks of speculation he was trying to force his way out of the Broncos to link-up with Wayne Bennett again, Roberts was on Tuesday night named outside Brisbane’s starting 17.

Picked on an extended bench, Roberts trained with Queensland Cup side Wynnum-Manly on Monday and had been expected to play in reserve grade this weekend.

However, The Daily Telegraph reports Roberts won’t even be able to play in reserve grade this weekend because Wynnum-Manly plays the PNG Hunters in Port Moresby and the star centre’s Visa has elapsed.

Just like that, Roberts is on the scrap heap.

The same report claims Bennett was overruled by Rabbitohs football manager Shane Richardson when the idea of recruiting Roberts with the salary cap space created by Greg Inglis’ departure was first discussed at the club.

That powerplay has pulled the rug out from under Roberts, who has fallen out with Broncos coach Anthony Seibold over a personality clash, according to reports.

Roberts’ mentor Anthony Mundine on Tuesday night revealed to Channel 7, Roberts does in fact want to leave Brisbane because of Seibold — but he has nowhere else to go after South Sydney’s backflip.

TONIGHT only on @7NewsBrisbane

James Roberts' close friend Anthony Mundine reveals the personality clash behind Roberts' fall out with coach Anthony Seibold.

Andrew McCullough's first interview since knee injury. He has some good news for Broncos fans. pic.twitter.com/9SYwvhXS9g

Dumped to reserve grade, Roberts finds himself needing to fight for his career.

Incredibly, his next senior game could be in State of Origin I at Suncorp Stadium on June 5.

NSW selectors are still considering Roberts to keep the jumper he wore in NSW’s victorious 2018 campaign.

The Daily Telegraph reports the race for the right centre position has been narrowed down to Roberts, veteran Josh Morris and complete bolter Mitchell Aubusson, who is having another strong season for the Roosters.

“Seibold doesn’t like Roberts but we do,’’ a source close to the Blues told The Telegraph.

“He did the job last year and would love nothing more than to come out and show up Seibold on the massive Origin stage.

“It would be like Dale Shearer in the old days for Queensland.”

QUEENSLAND’S BIG ORIGIN DEBATE

They need a hero.Source:Getty Images

Queensland still appears completely divided over how on earth they will be able to cover the loss of hooker Andrew McCullough.

Queensland selector Darren Lockyer told Channel 9 on Tuesday Jack Granville and Ben Hunt are both options after Cameron Smith’s representative retirement and injuries to McCullough and Jake Friend.

It came as Queensland legend Wally Lewis also pleaded for Cameron Smith to make his comeback to Origin. while declaring he likes what Granville would bring to the Queensland team.

‘He made the decision to hang up the Maroon boots and made sure he put his interest in the Melbourne Storm,” Walters told Nine.

“We’d take him back gladly, but I think I’m like most good judges who believe that Cam’s finished with Queensland and his sole intention is to finish off the best way possible with Melbourne Storm.

Lockyer also refused to rule out Smith making a comeback, but suggested it is unlikely.

““I’m pretty sure Kevvy (coach Kevin Walters) has had a conversation with Cameron and Cameron’s pretty much made his decision and he wants to stand by it,” Lockyer said.

“Pretty much everyone below the border has declared he’s going to play. They’re probably really nervous that he might play, but from where I sit right now, and things may change, but I don’t think it will happen.”

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