NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley has no qualms thrusting Josh McCrone into the Blues' utility bench role, declaring his chances won't be harmed if he doesn't spend time at hooker with Canberra.
As Country Origin coach last year, Daley handed Raiders five-eighth McCrone his first representative jumper after drafting him in as a late replacement for injured hooker Danny Buderus.
Daley was pleased with McCrone's performance at dummy-half off the bench, and has included him in the Blues' Emerging Squad after taking over the coaching position from Ricky Stuart this year.
''He's a player that could play any position, Josh. I just think he's a competitor and it's something you want in your football players,'' Daley said. ''He was good for me out of dummy half [for Country], and it may be a role he may well play again this year at some point for Country or for NSW.
''I gave him that opportunity there last year and he handled himself well, if I had to pick him in that type of role it wouldn't worry me. He didn't play there at club level last year, and I picked him.''
Former Raiders skipper Alan Tongue believes McCrone could play a handful of minutes at hooker, allowing returning playmaker Terry Campese to be eased back into the halves off the bench.
With regular Blues No.14 Kurt Gidley out with a shoulder injury, Stuart contacted McCrone just weeks before last year's Origin opener in the belief he could fill the role.
However, Stuart opted for Manly bolter Jamie Buhrer, who played just seven minutes.
While Daley is confident McCrone could do the job, early season form will be vital as a host of other versatile players aim to impress. ''I could give you a number of people that can play different roles, [Ryan] Hinchcliffe, Josh Reynolds, these type of blokes who can do the same,'' he said.
''I can tell you yes, he [McCrone] can play that role, but in terms of where he sits in the pecking order, I wouldn't have a clue. But it wouldn't worry me if I had to play him.''
Daley's appointment as NSW coach won't hurt Raiders prop Tom Learoyd-Lahrs' chances of an Origin recall.
A big fan of the 27-year-old, Daley was part of the Blues selection panel when he played Origin in 2009 and 2010. After Learoyd-Lahrs' big game for the Indigenous All Stars last year, Daley declared he ''would be the first prop picked'' if he was Blues coach.
''I'm a big supporter of Tommy, I think he's a terrific player,'' Daley said. ''Hopefully he has an injury-free year and it may lead to further honours down the track.
''He's been disrupted with injuries lately and hasn't had consecutive minutes on the park, which knocks the big fellas around a bit. If he gets himself ready and in the right frame of mind, he'll be a big show.''
Raiders centre Blake Ferguson also made his debut under Daley for Country against City last year, scoring two tries to win the side's Players' Player award.
However, Daley wants the 22-year-old, one of Canberra's most consistent players last year, to address his recent off-field issues before he becomes a serious Origin contender.
''There's no denying his talent and ability, obviously he needs to get himself right and not have those misdemeanours which have stopped his career inadvertently,'' Daley said.
''I'm sure somewhere down the track we'll have a yarn.''