Balmain great Tim Brasher has backed Jarryd Hayne for the NSW fullback spot ahead of James Tedesco despite the Wests Tigers star impressing in the No.1 jersey this year.
Gold Coast's Hayne has missed the last two State of Origin series to pursue his NFL dream, but former Blues custodian Brasher's preference is for him at fullback, with Tedesco slotted in either on the wing, at centre or on the bench.
'If Hayne's playing great footy, he's got to get the spot,' Brasher told AAP.
'He's the best we've got at his best.
'But I think you have to find a spot for Tedesco. He'd be great in the squad either way.'
Brasher said the 23-year-old Tedesco, who debuted for the Blues this year, needed an injury-free NRL season after his season was cut short when he missed the ninth-placed Tigers' finals push with a broken jaw.
It was the most recent of a string of frustrating setbacks during his five-year career.
'His problem is going to be staying on the field,' Brasher said.
'When he's playing he's fantastic. He's one of the best out there.
'But his big thing is being consistent and staying injury-free. If he does that, I think he'll be good enough to make the Origin team no matter where they put him.'
As for the Tigers, former star Brasher said their best chance in 2017 was to sneak into the eight and 'give it a shake' in the finals.
He predicted the club's off-contract stars including Aaron Woods, Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks would remain at the club as they push for a premiership in coming years.
'They're mature enough to start being a force but they still have that odd game where things don't go right at all,' Brasher said from the Jack Newton Classic in the Hunter Valley.
'What those guys do have is a bond and they'll take a little bit less to stay together.
'But, in saying that, when it comes to it, you've got a short time in rugby league and no one can begrudge anyone for getting what they're worth.'
He also defended the signing of former Penrith centre Jamal Idris, who took a year's break from the game, as a 'calculated risk'.