NRL: Origin callup inspires Lillyman

By Michael Brown

Jacob Lillyman is ready for a big game in Perth. Photo / Greg Bowker
Jacob Lillyman is ready for a big game in Perth. Photo / Greg Bowker

Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman has a bit more grunt behind his runs knowing he's close to playing in this month's State of Origin decider in Sydney.

Lillyman was called up as 18th man for last week's game in Brisbane but wasn't required as Queensland levelled the series. The 29-year-old has played six times for the Maroons, with the last appearance in 2011, but his callup was reward for some powerful recent performances for the Warriors.

Lillyman has averaged 102m a game this season but three times in the past four games has exceeded 150m. He did it again on Sunday against the Broncos when he ran for 152m and backed it up with 33 tackles and three tackle breaks.

He is one member of a four-strong prop rotation that is one of the best in the NRL but the quartet had to do without Russell Packer against Brisbane and Packer (hamstring) is a doubt for Sunday's game against the table-topping Rabbitohs in Perth.

Ben Matulino (150m), Sam Rapira (161m) and Lillyman made up for Packer's absence - Warriors coach Matt Elliott doesn't seem to have confidence in Suaia Matagi, who played only the first 15 minutes against Brisbane - and the trio will need to be equally effective on Sunday against a big South pack.

It's a matchup Lillyman is relishing and it will help knowing the Origin selectors will be watching his performance closely.

"The biggest thing is knowing you are thereabouts and in their minds," Lillyman said. "Had I not been called up and had a chat to [coach] Mal [Meninga] I wouldn't know where I was in the mix. It's a bit of a feather in the cap."

Winger Manu Vatuvei and Packer are doubts for Sunday's game. Both have been included in the side to face the Rabbitohs in the hope they will be fit to play but Elliott has named an extended seven-man bench to cover all options. That includes Ngani Laumape, who would replace Vatuvei, and backup props Matagi and Charlie Gubb.

•South Sydney and former Kiwis captain Roy Asotasi has announced he will leave the NRL at season's end to join English Super League club Warrington.


Side to play Souths at NIB Stadium, Perth, Sunday 8.30pm

* Kevin Locke
* Glen Fisiiahi
* Dane Nielsen
* Konrad Hurrell
* Manu Vatuvei
* Thomas Leuluai
* Shaun Johnson
* Sam Rapira
* Nathan Friend
* Ben Matulino
* Feleti Mateo
* Simon Mannering
* Elijah Taylor

Reserves: Russell Packer, Jacob Lillyman, Todd Lowrie, Dominique Peyroux, Ngani Laumape, Suaia Matagi, Charlie Gubb.


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