Big Willie probably isn't the best choice for NSW Origin
I REALISE Arthur Beetson was 35 when he captained Queensland in the very first State of Origin match, Darren Lockyer 34 when he finished in 2011 and that Petero Civoniceva was 36 when he played last year.
But surely the NSW selectors are not seriously considering a Willie Mason-comeback in the coming series.
The push for big Willie is certainly strong.
Even his Knights coach Wayne Bennett is singing his praises, but that may well be a ruse from the wily old former Maroons coach who these days nurtures the next generation of Queenslanders.
Surely there are better options available to the Blues.
Sure, Mason has been a revelation since he joined the Knights mid-way through last season.
His form has been quite outstanding and he is proving a valuable member of the Knights powerful pack.
He is certainly no old-aged pensioner.And while he is still a big kid off the field in many ways, at times that can be an added value.
He is the perfect example of someone who often engages his mouth before his brain.
I vividly recall an incident in 2006 which perfectly illustrates Willie's bizarre personality.
Walking up the tunnel at halftime in the preliminary final, with the Bulldogs leading the Broncos 20-6, he yelled 'we are going to the grand final'.
Every Broncos player and official heard him.
Coach Bennett, then with the Broncos, said little to his players during the break, but made a point of asking them if they heard what Mason said.
They had, and went on to score one of the greatest finals comeback victories of all time, eventually winning 37-20.
Yet big Willie was one of the first Bulldogs players in to the Broncos sheds afterwards to congratulate them.
One of the best on-field sledgers of the modern game, he is still universally liked among the players.
But while that adjunct, combined with his current good form, may be an advantage to the Blues in building team spirit, is it a good enough reason to select him?
Surely there are better options with an eye to the future.Incumbents James Tamou and Tim Grant must be automatic choices at prop, with young buck Aaron Woods a certainty for the bench.
Obviously Paul Gallen can play there at a pinch and the likes of Dan Hunt, Ryan James, Michael Weyman, Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods, Aiden Tolman, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Luke Douglas and Kade Snowden would appear a better long-term investment than big Willie.
If he wants a court jester like big Willie to be part of his group, maybe Laurie Daley should name him 18th man.
I wonder how his Knights coach would react to that.