Former Raiders captain and hooker Alan Tongue believes Wests Tiger hooker Robbie Farah holds the key to New South Wales snapping Queensland's run of seven-straight series wins this year.
Farah is the man most likely to replace Paul Gallen as skipper of the Blues if the inspirational forward does not recover from a knee injury in time for game one on June 5.
Tongue, who excelled in the dummy-half position for Canberra in a 220-game career between 2000 and 2011, said Farah had developed into one of the game's premier No.9s, behind Queensland's Cameron Smith.
"He's got great experience as a captain and he performed so well in last year's series," Tongue said.
"Robbie previously had the back seat to the likes of Michael Ennis and Danny Buderus, but he really stepped up last year.
"He can cover three different positions, and he's really grown and matured as a leader."
Tamworth-born Tongue, who represented Country Origin in 2009, is refusing to write off his native state, despite recent injuries to Gallen, fullback Brett Stewart and winger Brett Morris.
"Everybody agrees the gap is closing," Tongue said.
"If Queensland also suffers some injuries, I'm confident it can be done.
"(Blues coach) Laurie Daley was my coach at Country and he did a great job. You only have to listen to his commentary to hear how much he knows about the game."
Stewart's injury is likely to see Parramatta co-captain Jarryd Hayne shifted from the wing to fullback, but Tongue said his former Raiders teammate Reece Robinson could be a candidate for the custodian's position in the next few years.
"He mightn't be ready right now, but he definitely wouldn't let anyone down," Tongue said of the in-form flyer.
Tongue, now an NRL ambassador, also said another of his former Raiders teammates - bad boy Josh Dugan - deserved the lifeline the Dragons threw him last week.
"Canberra put a lot of hard work into him, so it will he hard seeing him play for someone else," he said.
"But you want to see a talented player like him get a second crack and, with the guidelines the Dragons have in place, he should come back a better player."
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