Legendary New South Wales Origin figure Tommy Raudonikis believes the VB Blues will win the 2017 Origin series – if they play a ferocious brand of football.
The tough-as-nails former halfback and NSW coach from 1997-1998 has called on Laurie Daley’s side to play in the face of their Queensland counterparts.
“We have to go in there with aggression – lots of aggression – and keep that aggression going for the duration. We need to be relentless,” Raudonikis tells NSWRL.com.au.
“I think we can win this year, even with two games in Queensland. This is Loz’s time – I like the way he’s handling it this year.”
The semi-retired legend of league, who now lives at Paradise Point on the Gold Coast, also believes Daley doesn’t need to look far to find a replacement for prop Aaron Woods, who revealed last night he is likely to miss Origin I through injury.
“[David] Klemmer will need to lead the way but in terms of replacements (for Woods), I’d go to [Andrew] Fifita,” Raudonikis, travelling to Sydney this Saturday for Wests’ Return To Lidcome day, says.
“Fifita, he’s got that aggression. He’s a very good player. He can be strong up front and unload. He’s going to cause some problems – he won Cronulla that (2016 NRL) Grand Final.”
Raudonikis – who would pick James Tedesco at fullback, Jack Bird and Dylan Walker in the centres and Mitchell Pearce at halfback in his 2017 Origin team – is one of a number of legends including John Dorahy, Bob Cooper and Noel Kelly, returning to Lidcombe for a special day on the Western Suburbs Magpies’ calendar. The event, featuring a Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield clash as well as a past players barbecue, kicks off when gates open at 11:30am.
“It meant so much, Lidcombe Oval, and Blacktown where I used to live. Getting a train out the back of the ground, it brings a tear to my eye,” Raudonikis says.
“A lot of the old players are going to be there [on Saturday]. It’s going to be a great day. Wests aren’t dead… the club is still going strong.”