League: Jennings' NSW inclusion no risk - Stuart

Michael Jennings in action against the Auckland Vulcans in the weekend is set to play in Origin I next week. Photo / Getty Images
Michael Jennings in action against the Auckland Vulcans in the weekend is set to play in Origin I next week. Photo / Getty Images

He was selected for second-tier rugby league action last week and NSW State of Origin this week, but Blues coach Ricky Stuart has no doubts Michael Jennings has what it takes to shine.

Jennings is on his final warning at Penrith after a number of off-field issues and coach Ivan Cleary lost patience with his star player by dumping him to reserve grade.

The 24-year-old played a peripheral role in Windsor Wolves' defeat by the Vulcans in Auckland on Saturday, but Stuart insists picking Jennings, who's also been nursing a shoulder injury, is not a risk.

Like Jennings, Jarryd Hayne's attitude has been questioned this season as Parramatta struggle at the bottom of the NRL ladder, but Stuart said both are proven at the highest level.

"I'm comfortable with what they have produced before and I am confident that they can handle the Origin arena,'' he said.

"It's up to Jarryd and Michael to show why they have been selected for Origin and get back to the level they are capable of.

"And maybe this is a kick along for Michael Jennings to show that he can be the footballer we all know he can, and get back to first grade for Penrith.''

Stuart has also included giant Manly back-rower Tony Williams, despite his suspension for the past six weeks for a dangerous tackle, meaning he will not have played since round three when he runs out in Melbourne on May 23.

Williams' Sea Eagles teammate Jamie Buhrer was also included for the first time.

Stuart has been in constant contact with Williams to keep tabs on his conditioning and is comfortable he can make an impression against a Queensland side chasing a seventh successive series win.

"He's shown what he can do in Test football for Australia and this is another chance to improve on that development as a footballer,'' Stuart said.

Buhrer will take the utility bench spot vacated by the season-ending injury to Kurt Gidley and Stuart said playing in a premiership-winning side was a main reason for his inclusion.

"I've got a second hooker there if I need one. He can handle back-row and centre,'' Stuart said.

Todd Carney's excellent form for Cronulla is also rewarded with a maiden call-up and the 2010 Dally M Medal winner said the news was one of the high points of his troubled career.

"It's a goal ticked off and I'm really happy,'' Carney said after helping his side to a 12-10 win over Melbourne on Sunday.

"I was confident (of inclusion). I put in a lot of work in the pre-season. I came here with a goal to be one of the fittest in the club and I've achieved that.''

Stuart will confirm players positions on Tuesday following Monday's match between St George Illawarra and Penrith where several of his players are involved.

NSW team (in expected positions): Brett Stewart, Akuila Uate, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Jarryd Hayne, Todd Carney, Mitchell Pearce, Paul Gallen, Robbie Farah, James Tamou, Luke Lewis, Glenn Stewart, Greg Bird. Interchange: Trent Merrin, Tony Williams, Jamie Buhrer, Ben Creagh.

- AAP

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