Manly winger Jorge Taufua’s blockbusting return to the NRL would have surely put a smile on Laurie Daley’s face on a tough weekend for the NSW State of Origin coach.
Taufua was enormous in his first game of the year in the Sea Eagles 24-4 demolition of Cronulla at Brookvale Oval on Sunday on his return from a dislocated shoulder.
The 22-year-old’s highly encouraging effort came less than 24 hours after NSW hooker Robbie Farah was helped off Campbelltown Stadium with a dislocated elbow on Saturday night.
Wests Tigers confirmed on Sunday their skilful playmaker will miss around six weeks, which puts him in grave doubt for the Origin opener in Brisbane on May 28.
With talk Daley is set to shake up his backline as the Blues seek to break Queensland’s eight-year stranglehold on the interstate series, Taufua came into strong reckoning with his damaging display.
“After a few more games, if I can build my confidence at club level, I would be confident if I got the call-up,” Taufua said of his Origin prospects.
“I would love to pull on the sky blue jersey one day.
“But I can’t say too much at the moment. It is only my first game back.
“I was a bit rusty in the second half.
“There were a lot of opportunities to put on points but too many errors.”
Taufua stormed 60 metres upfield in the third minute on a kick return in his first touch to lay on Steve Matai’s opener and then found the tryline himself in the 21st minute when he spun away from two Sharks defenders.
Overall he made 181 metres from nine runs, including seven tacklebreaks and two linebreaks.
Manly’s captain Jamie Lyon gave his backing to Taufua’s Origin claims.
“He’s got that potential,” Lyon said.
“He is still only young but I am sure he will be in the mix.
“He was in the mix last year. We’ll see how he goes.”
With Brett Morris certain to take one NSW wing spot, Newcastle’s James McManus and Akuila Uate, Penrith’s Josh Mansour and Sydney Roosters’ flyer Daniel Tupou are all likely to come into consideration for the other slot alongside Taufua.
Brett Stewart’s effort would have also pleased Daley.
In his best game of the year the superstar Manly fullback laid on four tries, had three linebreak assists and made 133 metres from 14 runs.
Daley however wouldn’t have been delighted with the form of Sharks pivot Todd Carney, who struggled to make an impact while sporting a new peroxide blonde buzzcut.