Stormin’ Norman states case for Maroons debut

The stars have aligned for St George Illawarra Dragons playmaker Corey Norman to make a strong case to Queensland Maroons selectors that he is ready for the State of Origin arena.

He is already on the right track.

The Maroons are sweating on the fitness of Daly Cherry-Evans ahead of the State of Origin opener on June 5 at Suncorp Stadium, but whether the Manly captain is fit or not, the utility position on the bench is still up for grabs - particularly if Queensland elects to start Ben Hunt and Michael Morgan.

Corey Norman in action for the Dragons. Photo: NRL Images
Corey Norman in action for the Dragons. Photo: NRL Images

Norman - a big body - could slot in anywhere in the back line and at a pinch could be utilised at dummy half.

The 27-year-old is putting to bed the narrative that he is loose on and off the field, and has impressed Maroons coach Kevin Walters with his form so far this year.

Young men learn and grow as they make their way through life, and from all reports, Norman is doing just that at the Dragons and is in a good head space.

When Norman landed a last gasp field goal in Round 3 to sink the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium and secure a 25-24 win, it was after he had demanded the ball in the ultimate pressure moment; it was just the second field goal of his NRL career.

He did it again a week later in golden point win against the Newcastle Knights.

Dragons players have noted how "chilled" Norman is.

Nothing seems to faze him, so the State of Origin arena may well be one he embraces without being weighed down by pressure or expectation.

Corey Norman during the 2019 Queensland Emerging Origin camp. Photo: NRL Images
Corey Norman during the 2019 Queensland Emerging Origin camp. Photo: NRL Images

Walters said before a ball was kicked this year, he wanted all the eligible playmakers for Queensland to be in form ahead of the Maroons team being selected.

Norman, who has been in the Queensland Emerging Origin system for several years, has answered that call.

His passing game has been slick, as evidenced by his five try assists and five line break assists in seven NRL games this year.

Norman, who also has a handy left boot, is running for a tick under 100 metres per game and his defence has been more than solid with an 85.4 per cent tackle efficiency rate.

Corey Norman kicking. Photo: NRL Images
Corey Norman kicking. Photo: NRL Images

He has had three clean sheets on the missed tackle front this year, and those are the kind of defensive performances the Maroons will need if they are to stop a NSW Blues side that will no doubt boast plenty of attacking weapons.

The Dragons next play Norman's old club Parramatta Eels and then the New Zealand Warriors, Newcastle Knights and Cronulla Sharks – all before the Maroons side is picked.

The next month is a window of opportunity for Norman and more classy displays will only help his quest to secure a Maroons debut.

If he does, it will be the ultimate Norman conquest.

Corey Norman. Photo: NRL Images
Corey Norman. Photo: NRL Images