State of Origin 2021: Bradman Best emerges as frontline contender for NSW Blues
State of Origin 2021: Bradman Best emerges as frontline contender for NSW Blues

Origin legend’s big call on Bradman Best

State of Origin has always been best of the best. Now the Blues' best may feature Newcastle's Bradman Best.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Best has emerged as a genuine option at left centre for the NSW side to play Queensland.

Blues adviser Greg Alexander has labelled Best "dynamic".

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Bradman Best was outstanding against the Warriors in round two. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
Bradman Best was outstanding against the Warriors in round two. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Best, 19, can further amplify his chances with a powerhouse performance in Sunday's match against Wests Tigers at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Canberra's Jack Wighton is the incumbent left centre while Penrith's Stephen Crichton would be another strong contender given he was part of an extended Blues squad last season.

Wighton could be considered at five-eighth.

Best has emerged strongly and quickly and has become a frontline Blues contender. He enjoyed two try assists in Newcastle's 20-16 win over New Zealand Warriors in wet conditions and made one line break.

He also ran for 122 metres from 12 runs and completed 17 tackles.

"Bradman had a few injuries to deal with last year but whenever he was on the field, every time he touched the ball, it seemed like something was about to happen," Alexander said. "That's how dynamic I find him.

"He has had a great start to this year, he is in terrific form.

"We chatted about Bradman Best at the end of last year but he needed some off-season surgery and is young so we didn't pick him.

 

"Jack Wighton has been playing left centre and Stephen Crichton is a left centre. So there's certainly some options there. Jack is an option for five-eighth, too. Bradman has been part of the Emerging Blues."

Best is a brute, standing 182cm and weighing 103kg.

NSW coach Brad Fittler told Channel 9: "He (Best) puts pressure on everyone, that's a good thing."

League Immortal Andrew Johns cautioned NSW about selecting Best, saying: "You can't play him this year. We've seen in the past NSW pick young players and probably burn them. He will be there eventually.

"I think next year definitely. But this year, let him work on his game. Eventually, he will be there and play for Australia for the next 10 years."

The man who gave Best his NRL debut - in round 23, 2019 - was former Knights coach Nathan Brown, now in charge of the Warriors.

Best is being lined up by the Blues. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman) NO ARCHIVING
Best is being lined up by the Blues. (AAP Image/Darren Pateman) NO ARCHIVING

"It's like a good racehorse - Mickey Mouse could train it," Brown said. "Bradman was a high achiever when he was 14, 15, 16, 17 years old.

"Those guys, the blue-chip players, are the ones all clubs want to recruit and sometimes if you're lucky enough have them in your own backyard. For the Knights, Bradman is a Central Coast boy.

"He is a good kid and was going to make it wherever he played. Fortunately for the Knights, he is one of those players that was in their backyard.

"You'd think he would have a good, long career and you all hope those kids play for their home club. He's been at the Knights since he was about 14 and you'd hate to see him leave that club."

Best has already played Origin football at under 16s and under 18s level. He is the son of former Manly and London Broncos player Roger Best.

Origin I will be played on June 9 at the MCG before matches in Brisbane (June 27) and Sydney (July 14).

 

Originally published as Origin legend's big call on Bradman Best


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