Roosters prodigal son Brad Fittler has stated that should one of the halves from either team in the finals series have the games of their lives, then they deserve to be the front-runner for the vacant halfback spot.

With incumbent halfback Jonathon Thurston battling an ankle injury and looking more and more unlikely to play, fellow incumbent and reserve halfback Cooper Cronk is looking to get first crack at the role.

But those in-form halves featuring in the finals in Mitchell Pearce, Todd Carney, Scott Prince and Jamie Soward, according to Fittler can also feature in the halves for Australia with an inspired finals display in the remaining games.

“No doubt … it shows you can handle pressure, so it’ll be interesting. There’s going to be an opportunity,” Fittler said.

“Johnathan Thurston doesn’t look like he’s ready to play so there’ll be an opportunity there somewhere.”

Despite recently undergoing elbow surgery, Cronk is thought to have fully recovered and is raring to go for the test campaign.

The main factor in Cronk not being selected however is that his team, the Melbourne Storm are not in this years finals campaign.

The factor that does work in Cronk’s favour however is that he travelled on last year’s tour and played well for Queensland, thus sending a message to Australian coach Tim Sheens to give him a crack.

Melbourne and Australia hooker Cameron Smith acknowledged that the halfback dilemma will be tough decision for selectors, but he was full of praise for team-mate Cooper Cronk.

“It’s a tough one because Scott Prince has been playing pretty well, Toddy Carney has had a pretty good year obviously,” said Smith, who agreed that a premiership-winning performance from Prince, Carney or Pearce could have an impact.

“No doubt. It certainly won’t hurt their chances. Taking a side to a premiership and playing well throughout the whole year (helps) but in the end it’s going to be what the coach thinks is the best make-up for the side.

“But Cooper has played State of Origin this year and I think he’s built for rep football.

“I think Cooper’s a very consistent player – you know what you’re going to get from him every week … I’m thinking he’s going to be there somewhere.”

Although many would consider him unlucky to miss out on making the Australian squad, Cronk admits that there is a chance that he may miss out.

Having said that, the committed half is confident that he has proved his mettle over the season, and thinks he has done enough to partner Darren Lockyer at 5/8.

“I think every player would love first crack,” Cronk said.

“The green and gold jersey, I’ve been lucky enough to wear it a few times, I hold it in very high regard.

“Out of sight out of mind but I think what I’ve done throughout the season and hopefully I’ve gone alright in the rep games I’ve done before, so time will tell but we’ll just see how it all pans out.”

Despite forming a formidable halves combination with Jonathon Thurston, Darren Lockyer says that he has no problem in being able to adapt to a new halves combination for the Four Nations.

“Whatever the team is that is selected, whether it’s someone I’ve played with or haven’t, I’ll make it work,” he said.

“We’ve got some depth in that position … there’s plenty of guys there playing at the moment who are doing a good job. And there’s incumbents in Thurston and Cronk depending on how their fitness is.”

By ricky

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