Cowboys enforcer James Tamou says NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley is on to something after bringing fullback Lachlan Coote into consideration for the coveted No. 1 jersey.
With chronic knee problems forcing last year’s NSW fullback Josh Dugan into the centres at club level, Daley has a decision to make with the custodian spot currently vacant.
The in-form James Tedesco is making an early bolt for the role after a scintillating start to 2016, but the Blues mentor is also receiving a compelling case from the 25-year-old Coote.
Coote and Tedesco offer completely different skill sets. The Cowboy proves week after week that he is one of the league’s safest under the high ball, while Tedesco – who led the NRL in tackle busts in 2015 – is as elusive as they come with ball in hand.
Tedesco is reported to be in the box seat to claim the job, but Coote boasts the potential to aid the Blues’ kicking game that has been found wanting in recent years.
When asked about the prospect of his teammate joining him at Origin level, Tamou put full support behind his fullback.
"He’s been a huge reason [for our success] last year and instrumental this year, even though we’re only a few rounds in," he said.
"He’s sort of come into his own with the kicking game and helping ‘Johnno’ (Johnathan Thurston) and ‘Morgs’ (Michael Morgan) out there. He’s been unreal. I think [he’s been one of our best] so far.
"In the back it’s a tough job, you don’t realise it because you sort of take it for granted I guess.
"Taking the catches and bringing the ball back is a tough job and he’s doing that awesome and in attack as well, he adds a bit of spark there, and obviously he has good leadership as well, he talks out the back there and lets us big boys know what’s going on."
Coote starred in Thursday night’s 40-0 demolition of the Roosters with a try and two assists in the first half alone, showcasing once again his abilities at both ends of the field.
The level-headed left hander is in career-best form while dealing with contractual arrangements behind the scenes, and backs himself to stand up to the challenges thrown up in the Origin arena.
"It’s always in the back of my mind, the Origin jersey," Coote said after the game.
"It’s always been one of my dreams since I made my debut."
Asked whether he is at Origin level, he said:"I’d say yes, definitely. I think stepping up to that level and having those players around you would definitely take you to that level."
This article first appeared on NRL.com