‘Hopefully I get that phone call’: Three-way battle for one NSW Blues Origin jersey

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Josh Addo-Carr is hopeful he will get a call up to NSW’s State of Origin team ahead of a showdown against Zac Lomax on Thursday night for a spot on the wing.

NSW and Queensland are expected to announce their squads for Game 1 following Round 12 this weekend, and there are some spots up for grabs.

Nicho Hynes is firming as NSW’s halfback with Jarome Luai and Cody Walker in contention for five-eighth, while Ezra Mam is tipped to be picked as Queensland’s five-eighth after Cameron Munster was ruled out with injury.

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With Michael Maguire taking over from Brad Fittler as NSW coach, there could be a few changes for the Blues.

Cronulla Sharks workhorse Cameron McInnes has put his hand up for an Origin debut, while Maguire will likely choose between Addo-Carr and Lomax for the second winger position alongside Brian To’o.

There’s also the possibility Lomax could be picked in the centres and the Blues go with Joseph Sua’ali’i on the wing.

Lomax has scored seven tries to Addo-Carr’s four so far this year and is in career best form despite agreeing to leave St George Illawarra and join Parramatta next season.

Lomax’s Dragons and Addo-Carr’s Bulldogs play each other in the first match of the NRL’s Indigenous Round on Thursday night, but Addo-Carr isn’t getting caught up in the Origin audition.

“I haven’t thought about it too much to be honest with you,” the Bulldogs flyer told news.com.au.

“All that outside noise doesn’t really mean anything. I’m just trying to focus on what I have to do for my team and that’s play good football for the Bulldogs. That’s what I plan to do.

“If I get the call up, I’m going to take it with both hands. That’s all I’ve ever done is try put my best foot forward and let my footy do the talking.

“Zac Lomax is having a wonderful season, but I’m just focused on what I have to do for my team at the moment.”

If he is selected for NSW, Addo-Carr could suit up in the Blues jersey along with Bulldogs teammates Stephen Crichton and Matt Burton.

“To put that Blues jersey on with them would be an absolute privilege,” he said.

“I spend every day with these boys. They’re wonderful men and wonderful footy players.

“I get to play with some of the best players in the world if I do get picked. But that time will come soon, if I get that phone call, hopefully.

“I just go with the flow. I’m just lucky I’m still in the conversation, just keep worrying about what I have to do at the Bulldogs and play consistent football.”

The Dragons and Bulldogs are ninth and 11th on the ladder, respectively, and a win would keep their finals hopes alive.

“I feel like they’re having a pretty good season just like us,” Addo-Carr said.

“They’ve got a big powerful pack.”

The 28-year-old said the Bulldogs had focused on their fitness and defence as they aim to find their identity as a team and put a couple of dire years behind them.

“I think we’ve figured out how we want to play as a team and what works for us,” he said. “We’re playing consistent football at the moment. I know we haven’t got results the last two weeks, but I feel like we know what wins games for us.

“We know our strengths. We don’t want to be outworked by any team. If you’re going to beat us, you got to beat us on your best day and you definitely won’t beat us by effort.

“That’s the approach going into every game. We know we don’t have the biggest team in the competition but I feel like we are the fittest if not one of the fittest in the competition and that’s why we’re playing consistent football at the moment.

“That’s our strength, our fitness, taking teams to deep waters.

“We feel like our best footy is definitely around the corner and I can’t wait for everyone to witness how hard we’ve been working on and off the field to be better.

“I’m so happy to be apart of this team. I love going into training everyday, working hard with this bunch of lads and the coaching staff. I’m really enjoying my football at the moment.”

Prior to the Dragons-Bulldogs game to kick off Indigenous Round, the Clontarf Foundation will stage its third State of Origin, featuring the Foundation’s best NSW and QLD rugby league talent.

The Clontarf Foundation uses sports to assist young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in improving their education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem, and employment prospects.

The State of Origin match will be free to stream on Kayo Freebies from 3:30pm AEST and will be played as the curtain raiser to the NRL Indigenous Round opening clash between the Bulldogs and Dragons at Accor Stadium on May 23.

Addo-Carr, a proud Wiradjuri and Gunnggandji man, presented Clontarf Foundation players with their jerseys on Wednesday.

“I still pinch myself that I get to sit in front of a bunch of young men coming through the ranks and finishing up school,” he said.

Asked what advice he gives emerging players, he said: “It would be if you get an opportunity, work as hard as you can to take it with both hands.

“Some kids are going to move away to NRL clubs or move away for work. If you’re going to spend so much time doing something, why don’t you be the best at it. That’s my message.”

“It’s very important. Just acknowledging my cultures is huge,” Addo-Carr said ahead of Indigenous Round.

“It’s not every round we get that. We’re super blessed that the NRL and all 17 teams put so much time and effort into this round and we’re so appreciative. It is special and we do feel really loved.”

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