Both Dale Finucane and Euan Aitken are on Brad Fitler’s radar.
Aitken was announced earlier this week as part of the NSW Emerging Blues roster, while Finucane has been named in a 32-man extended Blues training squad.
Both the Melbourne Storm lock and St George Illawarra centre were in the thick of contention for a jumper in 2018, but Finucane was snubbed after a broken thumb sidelined him for a month, while Latrell Mitchell was given the shot in the centres.
Aitken said it was his dream to be named to play for the Blues and that the selection for the Emerging outfit was a good marker on the way to that.
“Blues selection is a dream of mine so I’ll always do my best to try and get into that team,” he said.
“It’s definitely a confidence boost being named for the Emerging Blues and it will be a good stepping stone to be part of that system.”
The former Merimbula-Pambula Bulldog has played internationally for Scotland, but has aspirations to make it as a Wallaby one day.
“Right now the focus is having a good pre-season to put myself in the best position to have a good year for the Dragons.”
It’s a sign that Aitken is back on track after being hamstrung by a series of injuries in earlier seasons, but an off-season epidural provided a catalyst for managing his problem areas.
“We have done some outside the box things in terms of my injuries, but in saying that, it’s a testament to the performance staff and physios at the club,” he said.
Meanwhile, Finucane has been knocking on the door of Origin selection for about two years now, being named a late shadow-reserve in 2017.
He was hotly considered for the number 13 jumper this year, but a broken thumb sidelined him for a month.
At the time he got a text from Blues coach Brad Fitler Finucane revealed to Storm media.
“Brad Fittler sent me a message after I did my thumb just letting me know I'd been going well,” Finucane said.
"I'd love to play for my state.
"It's something I'd love to achieve at some stage in my career,” adding that it was a boost to be in the thoughts of selectors.
Finucane is one of the hardest-working players in the competition, telling reporters that “playing good consistent footy” was the only way he knew how to show selectors he was ready.
This is a golden opportunity for the 26-year-old former Bega Rooster, with the squad list including the existing 19 players who won the series this year.
Both the Emerging Blues and the extended Blues roster will take part in a training camp on December 14 as part of the opening of the NSWRL’s Centre of Excellence.
Both players are looking forward to the session in the hopes of impressing NSW selectors.