analysis

STATE OF ORIGIN: Can new NSW captain Jake Trbojevic lead the Blues to a Game I win at Accor Stadium?

Jasper Bruce
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Jarome Luai of the Blues and Reece Walsh of the Maroons scuffle during game two of the State of Origin series last year.
Jarome Luai of the Blues and Reece Walsh of the Maroons scuffle during game two of the State of Origin series last year. Credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Fullback: James Tedesco

Age: 31

Origins: 22

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Origin tries: 7

Who saw this coming? After a quad injury struck his would-be replacement Dylan Edwards, Tedesco heeded NSW’s distress call and will reprise his role as fullback. An out-and-out Blues champion, he only entered camp on Sunday but knows exactly what it means to excel on the Origin stage.

Winger: Brian To’o

Age: 25

Origins: 9

Origin tries: 4

The Penrith pocket rocket has become a must-pick for his tackle-breaking abilities and willingness to take tough carries out of yardage. Offers a point of difference to the other three wingers on the field with his compact size.

Centre: Stephen Crichton

Age: 23

Origins: 6

Origin tries: 1

Canterbury’s captain and star recruit has been a big part of the Bulldogs’ resurgence this year and brings similar leadership to the outside backs. Blessed with size and speed, he has become known as one of the NRL’s best big-game players.

Centre: Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii

Age: 20

Origins: 0

Origin tries: 0

Michael Maguire divided opinions by selecting rugby union-bound Suaalii, but there’s no debating his talent and athleticism. The Sydney Roosters star is accustomed to standing up to pressure and impressed during Samoa’s 2022 World Cup tilt, his representative debut.

Winger: Zac Lomax

Age: 24

Origins: 0

Origin tries: 0

A maiden Origin cap has been fitting reward for his excellent form on a move to the wing for St George Illawarra. Long touted as Origin material, he’s in career-best touch and poses an aerial threat on the edge.

Five-eighth: Jarome Luai

Age: 27

Origins: 7

Origin tries: 2

Dropped after game two last year, Luai earns a recall on the back of some fantastic individual performances for Penrith in Nathan Cleary’s absence. He’s affirmed his deft kicking abilities in recent weeks and the passion with which he plays is pure Origin.

Halfback: Nicho Hynes

Age: 27

Origins: 1

Origin tries: 0

Out to make amends for a tough Origin debut in last year’s series opener. The Cronulla star has shaken off a bothersome calf injury and will be tasked with running the show in the absence of a host of injured halfback options.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 03: Nicho Hynes warms up during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin Training Session at NSWRL Centre of Excellence on June 03, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)
Nicho Hynes has been under an injury cloud. Credit: Jason McCawley/Getty Images

Prop: Jake Trbojevic (capt)

Age: 30

Origins: 16

Origin tries: 1

The Blues’ new captain is as dedicated to the state as they come. His attacking impact might not be what it once was but his leadership and defensive work rate will both be essential for NSW.

Hooker: Reece Robson

Age: 25

Origins: 2

Origin tries: 0

NSW’s biggest selection shock, Robson gets the nod ahead of star Wests Tigers hooker Api Koroisau and is likely to play big minutes at dummy-half, with no specialist hooker named on the bench. Has provided much-needed consistency to a hot-and-cold North Queensland outfit this year.

Prop: Payne Haas

Age: 24

Origins: 11

Origin tries: 0

Arguably the most important forward on the field for either side. The Blues are looking to make Origin I into a grind through the middle of the park and the Brisbane behemoth is essential to the success of that plan.

Second Row: Liam Martin

Age: 27

Origins: 9

Origin tries: 1

The triple premiership-winner has developed a reputation as NSW’s biggest on- field pest, but there can be no doubting his importance with the ball as well. Expect him to spend some time in the middle of the park later in the game.

Second Row: Angus Crichton

Age: 28

Origins: 11

Origin tries: 1

He started the year playing reserve grade but is now undoubtedly one of the form edge forwards in the NRL. Overlooked entirely last series but now earns his third start in sky blue.

Lock: Cameron McInnes

Age: 30

Origins: 0

Origin tries: 0

With his toughness and persistence, the Cronulla captain just exudes Origin. Holds the record for most tackles in an NRL game (81) and has the ability to spend time at hooker if Robson needs a break.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 28: Cameron McInnes of the Blues poses during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin media opportunity at NSWRL Centre of Excellence on May 28, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Cameron McInnes will make his origin debut tonight. Credit: Matt King/Getty Images

Bench: Isaah Yeo

Age: 29

Origins: 11

Origin tries: 0

It will be interesting to see how Maguire uses Yeo, the best ball-playing lock in the NRL, from the bench. He has the size and power to play as a standard middle forward, and the fitness to play big minutes at lock if Maguire wants McInnes to spend some time at hooker.

Bench: Haumole Olakau’atu

Age: 25

Origins: 0

Origin tries: 0

The burly Manly second-rower earns a debut after a couple of years on the fringes. Could replace Liam Martin on an edge if Maguire wants to shift the Panther into the middle later on.

Bench: Spencer Leniu

Age: 23

Origins: 0

Origin tries: 0

Became known for his bench impact during three premiership seasons at Penrith and Queensland can expect him to provide tired defenders with similar headaches as the game wears on.

Spencer Leniu of the Blues poses for a photograph during a NSW Blues media day at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence in Sydney, Tuesday, May 28, 2024. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING
Spencer Leniu was out for eight weeks of a racial sledge against Queenslander Ezra Mam. He will be the most hated man in Queensland. Credit: DAN HIMBRECHTS/AAPIMAGE

Bench: Hudson Young

Age: 25

Origins: 2

Origin tries: 0

The Canberra second-rower got a taste of Origin last year but didn’t make as much of a mark on the arena as he’d have hoped. Likely to be tasked with playing centre in the event of an injury, given the Blues have picked four forwards on their bench.

18th Player: Matt Burton

Age: 24

Origins: 2

Origin tries: 1

Able to play centre or in the halves to equal acclaim, his versatility makes him the ideal candidate for the replacement role. Will only make it onto the field in the event of multiple concussions or one caused by foul play that results in a sin bin.

Comments

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 18-06-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 18 June 202418 June 2024

RBA boss turns hopes of mortgage cut on its head, declaring the bank is now only considering LIFTING rates as inflation continues to punish households.