Nine is fine ... Josh McCrone. Photo: Jay Cronan
New Canberra coach Ricky Stuart almost picked him for Origin, but Josh McCrone admits he is ''starting from scratch'' after describing his season as one of the worst of his career.
The playmaker wants Stuart to make a call on whether he will move to hooker permanently so he can get a full pre-season at dummy half under his belt.
The chances of McCrone shifting to No.9 increased when shoulder surgery ruled out first-choice rake Glen Buttriss for the next six months.
McCrone still has ambitions of reclaiming his halves spot, but faces stiff competition with youngsters Mitch Cornish and Jack Wighton also in contention to partner skipper Terry Campese. With regular Blues No.14 Kurt Gidley out injured, Stuart contacted McCrone just weeks before last year's Origin opener in the belief he could fill the role.
It's proof he believes McCrone can play different positions, but the 26-year-old plans to sit down with Stuart to nail down his role to give him the best possible preparation.
Speculation also continues to mount over whether ex-Souths hooker Nathan Peats may link with Canberra by exercising a get-out clause in his new Parramatta contract. ''We talked quickly but nothing too serious, in passing really,'' McCrone said. ''He didn't say either way and I didn't commit either way as well.
''I'd say we'll sit down at the start of pre-season and talk about it.
''I'd probably prefer to play in the halves, but if he sees that as the best spot for me and it's what the team needs, it's what I need to do.
''Hopefully he decides pretty early on so I get a whole pre-season training where I'm going to play.''
The former Raiders premiership halfback has long been an admirer of McCrone, particularly his running game and instinct. But McCrone wants to prove a point to himself first and foremost.
''It's nice he's said that in the past, but we're starting all over again,'' he said. ''You have to start from scratch with a new coach and we all have to earn our stripes.''
Although he is near certain to miss the final cut, McCrone described his selection in Australia's World Cup train-on squad as a pleasant surprise.
''I was pretty shocked, I thought it was one of my worst years in first grade, to be honest,'' McCrone said. ''It was a frustrating year for me, I didn't play my best football and I don't exactly know why. Changing position a few times didn't help too much but it was a frustrating year for the whole team.''
If moved to hooker, McCrone plans to work overtime on his defence to adjust to the extra workload in the middle third.
''I think I definitely need a pre-season, the last couple of games at hooker I got ran over the top of pretty easy,'' McCrone said.
While he's uncertain where he'll play just yet, McCrone is confident Stuart can iron out the club's discipline issues that resulted in the sacking of Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan.
''I think there'll be a lot more discipline on and off the field, we've struggled in both areas,'' he said.