James Tedesco.
James Tedesco has been ditched as fullback in Michael Maguire's first NSW Blues side. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Tedesco axed as fullback as only six Blues survive

Scott Bailey May 26, 2024

Michael Maguire has began his NSW coaching tenure with a boom-or-bust call, axing captain James Tedesco and picking Dylan Edwards for State of Origin I.

Maguire confirmed the shock call on Sunday night, dropping the incumbent Australian Test captain from his team and naming Jake Trbojevic as Blues skipper.

Nicho Hynes has been named as halfback despite concerns over a lingering calf issue, while Jarome Luai has been recalled to partner him at five-eighth.

There is no room for Latrell Mitchell in the backline or on the bench, with Zac Lomax to instead debut on the wing and Joseph Aukuso-Suaalii at centre.

Cameron McInnes has also earned his debut at lock, while Haumole Olakau’atu will come off the bench. Spencer Leniu is the sixth Origin rookie picked.

Reece Robson has also won the race for the No.9 jersey ahead of Apisai Koroisau.

Hynes
Nicho Hynes will be included in the halves by the Blues for Origin I.

But among 11 changes from Game III last year, it is Maguire’s decision to drop Tedesco for the June 5 series opener in Sydney that is by far the most notable.

The 2018 Dally M medallist is arguably the best fullback in NSW Origin history, and has played a record 22 straight matches for the Blues.

Despite this, the Roosters star is now the first Australia Test captain to be dropped from their State of Origin side while still leading the Kangaroos.

Tedesco had been under pressure to keep his NSW spot since early last year, but has been in a rich vein of form for the Roosters in recent weeks.

But Maguire has opted to reward Edwards for being among the NRL’s best fullbacks while winning three straight premierships at Penrith.

Dyland Edwards of the Panthers.
Dylan Edwards’ consistent form for Penrith has been rewarded.

Maguire has also placed significant faith in Hynes, despite a horror outing for the Sharks halfback against Penrith on Saturday night that ended with more concerns over his calf.

Hynes failed to get through the match, and underwent scans on the sore leg on Sunday.

It is likely he will have to be on a managed workload, causing potential issues for NSW given the amount of new combinations.

But a lack of fit halves – with Nathan Cleary injured and Mitch Moses out since late March – has led Maguire to stick with the Cronulla star.

Picked on the bench for last year’s series opener, Hynes has since admitted a brief stint at centre and subsequent axing knocked his confidence.

He has rebounded this season, leading Cronulla to the top of the table at the halfway mark of the regular season.

Luai was also dropped by NSW during last year’s Origin series, but is back to his best at Penrith this season.

The playmaker is one of five Panthers in the squad, with Liam Martin selected but still waiting to undergo a medical assessment after a minor hamstring strain.

Brian To’o is on the wing alongside former Penrith star Stephen Crichton, while Isaah Yeo is the fifth Panther in the squad but may come off the bench.

Angus Crichton has also won his way back into the side as a starting left-edge second-rower, while Hudson Young will come off the bench with Matt Burton as 18th man.

NSW: Dylan Edwards, Brian To’o, Stephen Crichton, Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii, Zac Lomax, Jarome Luai, Nicho Hynes, Jake Trbojevic, ┬áReece Robson, Payne Haas, Liam Martin, Angus Crichton, Cameron McInnes. Bench: Isaah Yeo, Haumole Olakau’atu, Spencer Leniu, Hudson Young. 18th: Matt Burton. Reserves: Luke Keary, Mitchell Barnett.