Raiders recruit emerges as bolter for All Stars game

Jake Foster with his fiancee, Kelly Brooks.Most league fans wouldn’t look twice if they passed him in the street, but that hasn’t stopped Canberra recruit Jake Foster emerging as a shock contender for the Indigenous All Stars next month.
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Despite Foster playing just 10 NRL games in five years for Canterbury, coach Laurie Daley said on Wednesday the unheralded forward was a serious chance of selection.

A shoulder injury to Kangaroos star Sam Thaiday, plus a lack of depth of Indigenous back-row talent, has improved his chances of playing in the season opener in Brisbane on February 9.

The 24-year-old, who moved to Canberra to kick-start his career, had attracted the 25th-most votes by Wednesday afternoon. Voting closes on Monday.

Fans vote in the first 17 players and the remaining three bench places are at the discretion of Daley.

It means Raiders supporters could receive an unexpected glimpse of what the Guildford Owls product has to offer, before he begins his two-year deal at the club.

Not bad for a player who remains absent from the Raiders’ player profiles on their official website. ”I think all players on the fringe who haven’t played a lot of first grade [are a chance] because we don’t have a lot of depth in the back row, and the forwards in particular will come into consideration,” Daley told The Canberra Times on Wednesday.

”He would be someone you may look at to have involved in that squad. We’ve got plenty of backs, we just need a few forwards.

”You need to look at what 17 has been delivered [by the fans] before you start looking at other people.”

Boom Raiders rookie Jack Wighton also remains a possibility, and would likely play a utility role off the bench should he get the nod.

Canberra forwards Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Joel Thompson, mainstays of the Indigenous side in the concept’s first three years, will retain their spots and are fourth and 10th respectively in voting.

Raiders teammate Blake Ferguson is 14th in voting, and is tipped to claim a wing spot alongside Souths flyer Nathan Merritt.

Ferguson moved to the centres with great success for Canberra last year, but Greg Inglis and Justin Hodges are pencilled in to play there for the Indigenous All Stars.

After his big game against the NRL All Stars last year, Daley said Learoyd-Lahrs would be ”one of the first front-rowers picked” if Daley became NSW coach.

Those comments bode well for the 27-year-old, as Daley takes over from former Raiders teammate Ricky Stuart as Blues coach this year. ”Most definitely [he can play Origin], I’ve always admired Tommy and think he’s a wonderful player, he’s a big body and has been there before,” Daley said.

”Hopefully he’s injury-free and if he’s in the right frame of mind and starts off well, he’ll be a big show.”

Canberra prop David Shillington looks well poised for a recall to the NRL All Stars squad, boasting a handy lead over incumbent Josh Dugan approaching the closing days of voting.

Shillington, who last played the match in 2010, is 18th on the list with nearly 2400 votes, comfortably in front of Dugan, who has been the Raiders’ designated representative the past two years.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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