Craig Bellamy has said his star winger Xavier Coates should be one of the first picks for Queensland when incoming Maroons coach Billy Slater names his State of Origin squad on Monday.
Coates scored his 11th try of the season in the Storm's 28-8 win over Manly on Thursday, flying high to take a Cameron Munster bomb to crush hopes of a Sea Eagles revival.
It moved him to second on the NRL tryscoring tally, one behind his injured teammate Ryan Papenhuyzen. It equalled his previous season's best with his former club, Brisbane, in just 11 games.
Coates, who has played five Origin matches since making his debut in 2020, is facing fierce competition from the likes of Cowboys flyers Murray Taulagi and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and young sensation Selwyn Cobbo and his Brisbane teammate Corey Oates.
But Bellamy plumped for Coates to retain his spot.
"He's done a great job there for Queensland in the games he's played," Bellamy said.
"I was talking to Billy (Slater) the other day and they've got a lot of good wingers available for Queensland.
"I don't know who they're going to pick but I imagine Xavier would be first, and if not first he'd be second. I'm sure he will be in Origin"
With Slater watching as part of the television commentary team, the Storm used their kicking game to exploit the height of Coates against Jorge Taufua, playing his first NRL game since 2020 when he ruptured his Achilles.
Bellamy said Coates, who stands 194cm and weighs 108kg, was an imposing figure.
"We kicked a lot for him and we didn't have success all the time but he always worries the other side," he said.
"He competes hard and he can turn an ordinary kick into a good kick.
"He's a really hard worker and he's a real humble kid and it's a pleasure for us to have him at our club."
Australian Associated Press
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