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Origin Greats Back Cordner To Lead The Blues

Martin Gabor, NRL.com

CAPTAIN CORDNER: Three greats in the past week have backed the Roosters forward to take over from Gallen
CAPTAIN CORDNER: Three greats in the past week have backed the Roosters forward to take over from Gallen

Paul Gallen's retirement from representative football has left a gaping hole in the NSW Blues' leadership group, and according to Roosters legend Anthony Minichiello, Boyd Cordner is the man to fill it. 

Cordner was recently named Roosters co-captain along with last year's skipper Jake Friend, and it hasn't taken long for his name to be thrown into the ring to take over from Gallen at State of Origin level as well. 

Minichiello, who skippered the Roosters to premiership success in 2013 and who is an NRL Ambassador for 2017, is no stranger to the Origin arena and is confident Cordner has what it takes to lead his state. 

"It's a great idea. The Blues are looking for a new captain to lead them into the future, and I think Boyd is a definite candidate for that role. He's going to be in that squad for years to come so I'd pick him," Minichiello told NRL.com. 

"I think every player in the team loves to play with Boyd because his game is pretty consistent from week to week and he doesn't leave any stone unturned. He's not happy if he doesn’t win so he's got a great competitive nature. 

"Off the field, people listen when he says something because he says it with good authority."

Minichiello noted Cordner's maturity from his formative days at the Roosters, with fellow senior players thoroughly impressed by his work ethic on and off the field during his first season in the NRL. 

Having made seven appearances in his debut season, it took Cordner just one game in 2012 to dispel any fears of second-year syndrome as he grubbered through in the 80th minute to set up Minichiello for the match-winning try in Round 1 against arch-rivals South Sydney. 

He has now played over 100 NRL games, represented his state and country and according to Minichiello is ready to embrace the added responsibility of having the 'c' next to his name. 

"To have the ability, and more importantly the confidence to put that kick in on the bell in an all-or-nothing play showed his maturity," the former fullback said as he recalled the win over Souths.  

"He loves to train hard, and that was a big thing that the older guys noticed. He never shirked his workload and he was always working hard in the gym or on the field. 

"He's really excited about it. He's looking forward to working with 'Friendy' (Jake Friend) who has done a fantastic job over the last couple of seasons. I think those two together will make a really strong leadership pairing."

Cordner's ascension to the co-captaincy will benefit Friend who is coming off a difficult year flying solo in the top job. 

Dramas at the club on and off the field – coupled with a crippling injury toll – made life tough for the 26-year-old, but to Friend's credit he fought on bravely week after week to finish the season as the Roosters' best and fairest. 

"Obviously it was a tough year from a club point of view. Injuries and other things took their toll on every player, and obviously as a captain, you wear that responsibility a bit more because you're in charge," Minichiello said. 

"'Friendy' was such a great leader for the club last year and he prides himself on his performance and winning games as well. I think having co-captains will allow both Boyd and Jake to focus on what they have to do on the field as well as leading the boys around the park."

It's not just ex-teammates who are backing Cordner to lead the Blues, with former NSW skipper Danny Buderus tipping the back-rower to excel if given the job. 

Buderus and Minichiello were at Rugby League Central on Wednesday along with 44 other NRL Ambassadors for the 2017 season, and the Knights great said Blues coach Laurie Daley should seriously consider Cordner for the captaincy. 

"I'm glad for Boyd Cordner for being named co-captain at the Roosters. I'd like to see someone like that [lead NSW]," Buderus said. 

"I know the Blues have got a young group coming through with the Trbojevic boys, Tyson Frizell and Josh Jackson – there are a number of guys there who have got a lot of years in them in the Origin arena. 

"I'm sure Laurie has thought about it long and hard and he'll make the right decision, but for mine, Boyd Cordner has been a really good, strong player for a long time."

This article first appeared on NRL.com