New South Wales coach Phil Gould has defended his selectors' decision to omit in-form Manly winger John Hopoate from the Blues' 25-man State Of Origin rugby league squad.
Hopoate was in the 33-man squad named last month but was axed this week from Gould's trimmed down squad, from which selectors will finalise a 17-man team to tackle Queensland in game of this year's series at Suncorp Stadium on June 11.
The 29-year-old City Origin winger has been devastating this season for Manly, leading the competition's hit-up list with 230 runs as well as featuring in the top 10 for tackle breaks. The 106 kilo juggernaut has also made 17 offloads, more than the three players in the NSW squad being considered for the two wing positions - the Bulldogs' Hazem El Masri, Sydney Rooster Anthony Minichiello and Newcastle's Timana Tahu.
But Gould says Hopoate's playing style simply isn't suited to Origin football. Hopoate played his one and only Origin game for the Blues in 1995.