Blues burning saviour By Barry Toohey April 27, 2007 12:00 TRAVIS Burns wasn't a starter in first grade when the season kicked off six weeks ago. And a month out from Origin 1, he is cooling his heels on the sidelines for the next two weeks because of suspension. But that hasn't stopped three former Blues legends declaring the Manly five-eighth the answer to NSW's five-eighth woes this season. Yes ... you heard it right ... Travis Burns. No disrepect but if ever there was a bolter for the Blues, it's Burns. But just think about it for a moment. Where are all the contenders? They don't exactly leap out at you. A state that produced the likes of Brett Kenny, Terry Lamb, Cliff Lyons, Matthew Johns, Laurie Daley and Brad Fittler over the past two decades is decidedly thin on the ground for pivots. The cupboard may never have been as bare. With Mark Gasnier injured, Burns' Manly teammate Jamie Lyon has been touted. But he has played only 10 minutes in the position all season and is one of the game's best centres. Newcastle's Kurt Gidley has also put himself in the frame and is almost certain to be the Country Origin five-eighth. But his outstanding form, which has him currently at the top of the Dally M leader board, has come while he has been playing a roving role with the Knights from fullback. His coach Brian Smith has backrower Daniel Abraham at six and won't even entertain moving Gidley to five-eighth. Braith Anasta has suffered from playing in a Roosters side which only had its first win of the season on Wednesday but there has been absolutely nothing wrong with his form. The question is will the Blues selectors go to him again, having discarded him in the past. Another possibility, Ben Hornby, a manufactured half or five-eighth who has Origin experience at fullback, has hardly been setting the world on fire with the Dragons. That about pulls it up. And that's only the No.6 jumper. Who is going to play halfback now that Andrew Johns has ridden off into the sunset? Next question! The contrast couldn't be any more stark. Queensland boasts two of the game's great players in Johnathan Thurston and Darren Lockyer in the halves. The Blues are literally at sixes and sevens trying to come up with a combination capable of competing with them. Former Parramatta Eel, Kenny, whose five-eighth duels at Origin level with Wally Lewis are still talked about, said of the Blues' halves dilemma: "I don't think we have been this bad off at rep level ever. "When you look at some of the five-eighths we've had in the past, at the moment we seem to be struggling. For some reason, we just aren't developing them to the point where Australia could even be in trouble pretty soon when Lockyer calls it a day.'' When pressed for his choice as Blues five-eighth, Kenny had no hesitation in pushing for Burns' selection. "That might surprise a few people because I don't think he has been really thrown up but he is a tough customer who doesn't take a backward step and has been playing well for Manly,'' Kenny said. "He'd suit Origin footy and really, as I said, there's not much else around. As for halfback, I wouldn't have a problem if they picked either Matt Orford or Brett Kimmorley. Kimmorley has probably played a bit more footy and has been going well.'' Former NSW halfback and coach Tommy Raudonikis is another Burns fan. "There is not a lot out there, is there?'' Raudonikis said. "It really is a bad state of affairs but if it was me, I'd be picking the kid from Manly (Burns) and Kimmorley. The way Kimmorley is playing - his defence is really aggressive and I haven't seen him in that frame of mind before. "Burns, from what I've seen of him, he is real tough and his defence is terrific. I think he's ready. Just put him in there and tell him to follow Lockyer around and give it to him whenever he gets the ball. "He's aggressive - that's what we are going to need against them. They'll start favourites, Queensland, but I think if they go that way in the halves and pick the right forward pack, we are still a good chance of winning. "Take no prisoners - to beat them we have to take that attitude. It's dog eat dog.'' Manly's former five-eighth wizard Lyons agrees that Burns is the answer. "I know he is out suspended for a couple of weeks but he is the only form five-eighth available and I just think he wouldn't be out of place in Origin,'' Lyons said. "He might give away the odd penalty for a high shot but he's as tough as they come and is a real good defender. "Put him in there alongside Kimmorley - that would be what I would do.'' Lyons would not be shifting Lyon from the centres. "I think he is the best centre in the world so why would you gamble by shifting him? I'd be leaving him there,'' he said. Former Blues series-winning captain Steve Mortimer is a Gidley fan and says he has to be in the Blues' 17 somewhere - if not at five-eighth. "I've really enjoyed watching him play,'' Mortimer said. "I'm a great believer in picking your best 17 and then finding positions for them and young Gidley has to be in there somewhere. But the five-eighth spot - I'd need to think about it. We are not too well off are we? "We don't have the bank account that Queensland has. Lockyer's their dominating factor but unfortunately, ours retired from the game a few weeks ago. I'd probably go for the tried and true. The players who have been there before. "Either Kimmorley or Gower at halfback and Braith Anasta at five-eighth. Anasta's playing well and hasn't really failed them before. I'd probably go with him but ask me in three weeks time. I might have a better idea.'' So might the rest of us.