Roy Masters | May 6, 2008,leaguehq.com.au MELBOURNE'S 2007 grand-final performance may count more than Friday night's Test match, with the Storm's two premiership-winning props, Brett White and Ben Cross, likely to be chosen for NSW in the first State of Origin match, displacing Manly's Test prop Brent Kite, whom they dominated in last year's NRL decider. Blues and Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy is confident that Cross, who transferred to Newcastle this season, and White, the Storm's No.1 prop, can restore NSW forward power after two successive series losses, possibly usurping Kite, who played for the Blues last year and has been chosen in the front row for Australia against New Zealand in the Centenary Test. Cross made a triumphant return to representative football when he played a strong role off the bench for Country against City in Wollongong last Friday. Country assistant coach Michael Maguire, who is also Bellamy's deputy in Melbourne, rang his head coach shortly after the City-Country match to praise Cross, who finished ahead of White, a guaranteed selection for NSW. Prior to the Wollongong match, NSW selectors believed Cross had softened after a long lay-off with injury, but Bellamy expressed confidence the 112-kilogram prop, who plays like a rolling boulder, could "do the job". There has been a push for St George Illawarra's Jason Ryles, particularly following some impressive statistics, which rate him at the top of NRL props. Australian coach Ricky Stuart, who is keen to entice Ryles to the Sharks, believes the prop can return to the form that won the Blues the series in 2005, but Ryles did not impress this year's Country selectors. Past NSW coaches argue Origin football is such a physically confronting contest it is important to have big units on the field early, meaning it is mandatory to include a 115kg prop on the bench. However, Origin football is also renowned for its speed, few stoppages and fast play-the-balls, meaning mobility plays a major role. NSW have an edge over Queensland in this department at a time when the game lacks wide-running second-rowers. Just more than a decade ago, Manly had three mobile back-rowers in their 1996 premiership-winning team but today there are only two high-quality wide runners - Melbourne's Ryan Hoffman and the Roosters' Anthony Tupou, with both included in Australia's team to play New Zealand. Hoffman is a certainty on the left-hand side for the Blues, with the Roosters' Willie Mason expected to partner him. Mason may be chosen on the bench but he can make an impact running at Queensland's left-side defenders, such as expected half Johnathan Thurston. Mason, like most past and present Bulldogs, lacks skill in the wrestle at the ruck, meaning he is not suited to defending close to the play-the-ball. Cronulla's Greg Bird, who played for NSW in last year's dead-rubber victory, will almost certainly lock the scrum, contributing further to the team's mobility and adding versatility via his ability as five-eighth, a position he will play for Australia following the withdrawal of Darren Lockyer. Bird's clubmate, Paul Gallen, will almost certainly be included on the Blues bench, with Tupou and the Gold Coast's Anthony Laffranchi. Field position plays such a critical role in Origin football that NSW must include a kicking half, guaranteeing the selection of the Roosters' Braith Anasta as five-eighth. While Newcastle's Kurt Gidley, a benchman for Australia, will play No.7 for the Blues, he is not a noted kicker, nor is hooker Danny Buderus, both of whom have spent their club careers watching Andrew Johns mesmerise opposition defenders with his magic boot. Nor is Parramatta's Brett Finch - likely to be chosen as the Blues back reserve - a renowned distance finder. St George Illawarra's two centres, Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper, appear automatic selections, despite their club's poor form, with Gasnier partnering Parramatta's Jarryd Hayne on the right-hand side and Cooper linking with Melbourne's Anthony Quinn on the left. Hayne, who has not kicked a goal in the NRL since 2006, may have to assume this responsibility should Gidley be injured or off the field. However, Hayne, who achieved a rare representative trifecta last year, being chosen for City, NSW and Australia at age 19, would not lack confidence as a goalkicker, despite being No.3 or No.4 choice at the Eels. NSW selectors' experiment last year with the Bulldogs' Hazem El Masri as a winger was successful but the code's greatest ever goal kicker is injured. Manly's Brett Stewart is expected to be the Blues fullback. ROY MASTERS'S ORIGIN TEAM 1 Brett Stewart, 2 Anthony Quinn, 3 Mark Gasnier, 4 Matt Cooper, 5 Jarryd Hayne, 6 Braith Anasta, 7 Kurt Gidley, 8 Brett White, 9 Danny Buderus, 10 Ben Cross, 11 Ryan Hoffman, 12 Willie Mason, 13 Greg Bird. Interchange: 14 Paul Gallen, 15 Anthony Tupou, 16 Anthony Laffranchi, 17 Brett Finch.