Maguire wields axe to shake up Blues squad with five changes by StuffsEarth

Estimated read time 18 min read

Michael Maguire is putting his faith in Mitchell Moses, Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray as part of five changes to his team in a bid to salvage the Blues’ State of Origin hopes for game two in Melbourne on June 26.

Nicho Hynes has lost the halfback jersey with Moses to replace him after the Cronulla star’s modest starting debut in the Origin I loss to Queensland at Accor Stadium last month. 

Hynes is not the only Shark who is a victim of Maguire’s cutthroat selections with Cameron McInnes also dropped after he was ineffective when starting at lock in his first match at Origin level.

He retains a spot in the squad but has been listed in the reserves alongside Warriors forward Mitch Barnett and Roosters veteran Luke Keary with Matt Burton and Hudson Young punted altogether.

Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards will finally make his NSW debut after getting through Penrith’s win over Newcastle on Sunday in his usual busy manner to show he is over his thigh injury. Edwards reclaims the No.1 jersey from former skipper James Tedesco, who did a solid job when called in late to replace his Kangaroos teammate.

Roosters utility Connor Watson is the fifth fresh face in the new-look Blues side with the versatile veteran chosen on the interchange for his ability to play at dummy-half, lock or anywhere in the backline.

After getting through his return for Penrith unscathed on Sunday, Edwards declared he would now benefit from his Origin I experience in Melbourne. “It prepares you, definitely,” Edwards said. 

“You’re never going to know until you’re actually out there under the lights, but it sort of prepares you the best you can. I got to experience Origin, I was in the box so I got to look at it from that point of view, and just the whole preparation and atmosphere was really good.”

Mitchell was overlooked for the series opener but will line up at centre following the four-game ban handed down to Joseph Suaalii for his send-off hit on Reece Walsh in the early stages of the match. 

He spent Saturday alongside Maguire at South Sydney’s 2014 premiership reunion, posing for photos with the NSW coach and publicly declaring he wants to play Origin.

The pair posed for jovial photos for South Sydney’s social media page, while Mitchell shared one on his own story with the caption: “We on?”

He told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was eager to rip into the Maroons at the MCG. “I’m ready. I’m keen. If Madge wants me, I’m in,” he told the SMH.

“I’m ready to go to Melbourne and give it to some Queenslanders. There was a lot of doubt with NSW because I’ve never been looked after. I’ve been the scapegoat. I don’t want to go into this camp being the scapegoat if they lose.

“I want to go into a camp and feel comfortable in my own skin and create some bonds and get ready to play for people I want to play for. Not go in and be the scapegoat for the media to go, ‘Latrell this, this and this’.”

Latrell Mitchell. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Mitchell could not have made a more compelling case on the field on Friday night, when he was involved in everything in South Sydney’s 22-12 win over Brisbane.

The 26-year-old has not played Origin since 2021 due to injuries, but has beaten out Bradman Best, Jesse Ramien and Kotoni Staggs to return to the Blues team.

Murray got through his return from a hip injury for South Sydney against Brisbane unscathed and fellow back-rowers Liam Martin and Haumole Olakau’atu have also been cleared to play after lining up in club footy on Sunday.

Eels interim coach Trent Barrett was adamant Moses was the best option for the NSW halves after his strong showings at club level since returning from a foot injury three weeks ago.

“From a State of Origin point of view, I think he’s our best option,” Barrett said. “Mitch is three games back from his foot (injury).

“I thought he was good (against the Roosters on Saturday night). He did some really good things again.”



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Blues Origin II team

1 Dylan Edwards (Panthers)
2 Brian To’o (Panthers)
3 Stephen Crichton (Bulldogs)
4 Latrell Mitchell (Rabbitohs)
5 Zac Lomax (Dragons)
6 Jarome Luai (Panthers)
7 Mitchell Moses (Eels)
8 Jake Trbojevic (c) (Sea Eagles)
9 Reece Robson (Cowboys)
10 Payne Haas (Broncos)
11 Liam Martin (Panthers)
12 Angus Crichton (Roosters)
13 Cameron Murray (Rabbitohs)
14 Connor Watson (Roosters)
15 Isaah Yeo (Panthers)
16 Haumole Olakau’atu (Sea Eagles)
17 Spencer Leniu (Roosters)
18 Mitch Barnett (Warriors)
19 Cameron McInnes (Sharks)
20 Luke Keary (Roosters)

with AAP

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