Titans coach: Peats built for Origin
TITANS coach Garth Brennan has launched a passionate defence of Nathan Peats, saying his hooker is built for Origin and should be in the conversation for the Blues.
Peats made his Origin debut last year and was lauded after the Blues' Game One win, having covered the most ground in Origin history (8.1km) and made 53 tackles.
But after NSW lost the series, the Titans rake seemed to be suddenly on the nose and has not been mentioned among candidates for the No. 9 jersey this year, with South Sydney's Damien Cook, Cameron McInnes from the Dragons and Manly's Api Koroisau the favourites to claim the spot.
"I think it's been pretty harsh, the talk and the criticism of Nathan," Brennan said.
"I think he's made for Origin to be honest, Nathan Peats.
"He wears his heart on his sleeve, he's passionate, he puts his body on the line.
"It depends how Freddy (NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler) wants to play, I suppose, but I think criticism of Nathan Peats has been harsh.
"I think he'd do a fantastic job. I don't think he did too much wrong last year and I think if he got the call-up, he'd put his heart and soul into that Blues jumper."
Peats, who has a final chance to impress selectors when the Titans take on the Roosters on Saturday, seems to have been a victim not only of the series result, but the Blues' style of play last year.
After criticism of former hooker Robbie Farrah hogging ball-playing opportunities, NSW heavyweights wanted Peats to concentrate on distributing the ball to halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney and relentless defence.
But with Peats' running ability blasted, Brennan feels he is paying the price for following instructions.
"You've got to understand, it depends on what instructions he was under last year," Brennan said.
"I heard reports that they just wanted a dummy-half that was going to feed the halfback.
"So you can't ask that of the player and then criticise him because he doesn't run. If he's under instructions from the coach to pass off the ground and give early service to the halfbacks and let them do their job, then he's done his job.
"If you want him to go out there and run, then I'm sure Peatsy would do that.
"When I ask him to run, he runs - he does everything I ask him to do. And he did what he was asked last year, so I don't think he can be criticised too much on the back of not running last year."
After shoulder surgery late last season and recent injury issues, Peats has not been in the same form he was before being selected last year.
And while he has refused to buy into the Origin conversation recently, he said in the pre-season he would love to keep his coveted jersey.
"People's opinions don't really matter to me. I'm going to work hard to regain that spot and if I do, I'll be over the moon but if I don't, I'll just keep working harder," he said.
"I've got to try and prove to the coaches and whoever else picks the team that I'm good enough to play again.
"I'm not just going to walk into that. It's a new coach and a new staff and there's some quality 'nines' running around, so it's going to be tough."
Brennan also said Titans captain Ryan James deserved to be in the conversation for a Blues spot, while also rating the criticism of Boyd Cordner as unfair.
But he was most adamant about Peats and had no doubt he would do the job if recalled.
"I think he's exactly what Origin is - he puts his body on the line, he's a player that other players what to play with, you know he'll give his heart and soul, you know he's got their backs," Brennan said.
"So if Freddy was to go with Nathan Peats, I've got no doubt he'd do a great job."