MARK ‘SPUDD’ CARROLL: Dylan Edwards can be NSW’s Luke Skywalker and QLD omitting David Fifita a massive leg-up

Mark Carroll
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Dylan Edwards is ready to save the Origin galaxy from the cane toad empire.
Dylan Edwards is ready to save the Origin galaxy from the cane toad empire. Credit: Will Pearce

I never like seeing champions get the chop.

But in the case of James Tedesco, I’m right behind new Blues coach Michael Maguire. It’s a big call to drop a bloke who’s played 22 straight games for NSW and is also the skipper.

Dylan Edwards though, deserves his chance. He’s not just been knocking on the door – he’s been banging it down with a battering ram.

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Edwards has won three straight premierships with the Panthers and is the most consistent player in the competition. If you need any more proof, have a look at the Dally M Player of the Year voting – he’s out in front after 12 rounds.

He’s not the biggest, fastest or strongest. But Edwards is all heart and knows where to be and how to get there.

Tedesco has been great for the Roosters, but this guy has been even better.

Edwards is one of six new faces in the 17 to take on the Maroons on June 5 at Accor Stadium.

He joins Joseph Suaali’I, Zac Lomax, Haumole Olakau’atu, Cameron McInnes and Spencer Leniu as the Blues debutants.

Getting called up to make your State of Origin debut is one of the great moments of your career.

But it’s a lot less stressful for the modern day player than it was back in 1995 when I debuted!

It sounds like Madge Maguire gave all the boys a phone call well before he announced the team publicly.

It was a bit different for me almost 30 years ago. I was sitting at home in front of the radio, shooshing everyone else in the room, so I could hear the names being read out.

That was the only way you found out if you were in the team. There were no calls from the coach, no emails.

When I heard “Mark Carroll” read out I went ballistic and screamed my head off with excitement.

I jumped in the car and raced into camp at Coogee. I was so pumped I slept the first night in my new Blues tracksuit!

Look, we needed to make some changes if we want to end Queensland’s two-year winning run.

The other thing with Tedesco being left out is we have a new skipper – and I’m so happy for Jake Trbojevic.

This bloke is so competitive he’s on the verge of tears if he loses the toss!

Jake’s got the body of an accountant but inside is an engine that never stops. Even under fatigue he’ll still come up with the right calls for his State.

With the “C” next to his name Jake will go to another level and take the rest of the boys on his back with him. It’s pretty crazy how he’s going head to head with Daly Cherry-Evans, the Queensland captain.

DCE is his captain at club level, but anyone who watches Manly play can see that Jake is just as much a leader. Look at those team huddles – his arms are waving around and his head looks like it’s about to explode!

Michael Maguire is passionate about NSW returning to its glory days.
Michael Maguire is passionate about NSW returning to its glory days. Credit: DEAN LEWINS/AAPIMAGE

One issue I have with the team surrounds halfback Nicho Hynes.

He’s been hampered by a calf injury and that worries me going into such an important game, especially for someone who’s inexperienced at Origin level.

In my view, the medical staff have got to make a call by Wednesday. And Nicho himself should also be honest and say “boys I’m not right” if that’s the case.

They’ve picked Luke Keary as back-up and he’s in top form.

I really like what Maguire has been doing in his first stint as coach.

About six weeks ago he visited me at a café holding a NSW jersey. He said ‘what does this mean to you?’

I replied quick as a flash: ‘I’ll play!’

Madge is trying to tap into the Blues culture by getting around and talking to us former Blues. He’s also bringing us into camp to have a couple of beers with the current squad.

I reckon this is important and has been overlooked in the past. Maguire has put his head on the block with this team and picked on form, not reputation. Good on him and I reckon its going to pay off.

AND DON’T GET ME STARTED

Just to finish, I would like to thank Billy Slater and the Queensland selectors for not picking David Fifita.

You have done the Blues an almighty favour.

Fifita has been in great form for the Titans and can change a game in the blink of an eye with his raw power.

Not picking David Fifita is a godsend for NSW.
Not picking David Fifita is a godsend for NSW. Credit: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

He’s an X-factor player with the ability to rip a defensive line to shreds.

I’m sure Madge is stoked that Fifita won’t be out there on Wednesday week.

I am also surprised they’ve left out Ezra Mam from the Broncos. He’s an electric runner of the footy and let’s just say I’d be happier trying to tackle Tom Dearden than Mam.

One selection they have got right is Parramatta lock J’maine Hopgood on the bench. He’s a hard worker and I’m a big fan, even if the Eels are struggling big time

But I really couldn’t care less who the Cane Toads pick – go the Blues!

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