The countdown has begun as fans await the announcement of NSW’s State of Origin side for Game 1 – set for tonight – before QLD’s team is called Monday morning.
NSW coach Brad Fittler has promised ‘surprises’ in his 22-man squad, and that will include Roosters winger Daniel Tupou who starts for NSW for the first time since 2020.
Blues skipper James Tedesco explained he wasn’t sure what the NSW side would look like, but endorsed Nicho Hynes’ use value following his side’s strong 36-16 win.
Incumbent Maroons Cameron Munster praised young gunman Selwyn Cobbo who is out to get plucked into Billy Slater’s side.
Meanwhile, Cooper Cronk has called on Fox League Blues coach Brad Fittler to pick Roosters forward Angus Crichton for the series opener.
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FOUR BLUES DEBUTANTS TIPED FOR FREDDY’S 17
Brad Fittler’s pick-and-stick policy could be out the window with up to four debutants in his 17 for Origin I.
Michael Chammas of the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Blues could line up four debutants in Stephen Crichton and Kotoni Staggs who are locks and Nicho Hynes and Ryan Matterson on the bench for Origin I.
MATTERSON’S BIG AUDITION
Ryan Matterson is approaching a spot in NSW’s expanded squad, all he needs to do is put in a big performance in the Eels’ clash with the Raiders, according toThe Sydney Morning Herald.
Matterson has been in the best shape of his career this season and if he continues to do so he will be tipped to be rewarded with a call-up.
SHARKS STAR MAKES BLUES SQUAD AS MAROONS THREE YOUNG GUNS DEBUT
The Blues will choose Sharks star Nicho Hynes, while the Maroons will hand their debut to three young stars.
Dave Riccio of the Daily Telegraph reported that Hynes’ last spot in the roster will be decided after today’s games.
Meanwhile, Lindsay Collins will start front row for the Maroons and Billy Slater will hand their debuts to Reuben Cotter, Jeremiah Nanai and Patrick Carrigan.
KNIGHTS BOLTER TO JOIN BLUES SQUAD
Jacob Saifiti is reportedly on his way to NSW Origin camp after his brother and sitting prop Daniel Saifiti was sidelined with a knee injury.
Sydney Morning Herald’s Michael Chammas reported that Jacob Saifiti will be joining the NSW squad in Sydney with the squad to be announced tonight.
It is unknown if Saifiti will be used in the 17 at this stage or just as a backup player.
Chammas also reported that Daniel Tupou will make the team, Stephen Crichton will make his debut in the centers and Angus Crichton will miss the squad.
It’s also unlikely that Liam Martin will be at 17 unless injuries strike.
Chammas also reported that Jake Trbojevic was left out in a huge phone call from Fittler.
FREDDY PROMISES ‘SURPRISES’ – AND DELIVERS DEBUTANT
NSW coach Brad Fittler was asked on Nine Sunday morning if there would be a few bolts in his Blues side, and he replied, “Well, I think so, absolutely.”
“There will be a few surprises.”
One will see 196cm Roosters winger Daniel Tupou, while The Daily Telegraph reveals on Sunday morning that the flyer will be named in the starting Blues team.
NSW has turned to 30-year-old Tupou to fight the air force of Selwyn Cobbo and 194cm Stormwing Xavier Coates, both of whom are likely to be named after Queensland.
Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald claims Stephen Crichton will make his Blues debut after an impressive run for the Panthers.
Fittler added that he has spoken to wild Brisbane star Payne Haas about his dramatic week of breaches of contract with the Broncos, confirming that the boom plug will hold its place. “He’s going to put that (drama) behind him,” Fittler said.
CRONK CALLS FOR CRICHTON’S SELECTION
Rugby league legend Cooper Cronk has called on Brad Fittler to pick Angus Crichton to his NSW side for the series opener.
The 26-year-old has made nine appearances for the Blues, including two appearances in the 2021 series win.
At the start of the season, a slump in the form of Crichton cast doubt on his roster, but after a string of strong showings, Fox League’s Cooper Cronk thinks he should take a seat on the bench.
“I think Angus Crichton will be there, I thought that was one of his better games, especially that first half, he tormented Nicho Hynes on that left edge,” Cronk said.
“They played him briefly early on and he got physical, and that’s Angus’ greatest strength.
“What NSW has in store for them is that they have a core group of players who have been consistently in the group for a long time, and that’s why they’ve been successful,” Cronk said.
“Angus was one of those players, he’s got a bit of flexibility, he can go through the middle, he’s probably played some of his best representative football through the middle.
“So he’s probably the perfect player to have on the bench to be able to have that.”
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TEDESCO’S HYNES SUPPORT
Blues skipper James Tedesco spoke highly of utility candidate Nicho Hynes in the post-match press conference following his side’s 36-16 win.
Tedesco performed strongly for Hynes’ top Cronulla team and showed why he is NSW’s best option as a fullback.
The 29-year-old was asked if Nicho Hynes was ready for the Origin arena.
“Yeah, he actually came into camp last year and was around the guys, he’s a good guy Nicho, we had a bit of a chat after the game,” Tedesco said.
“He’s played really good football this year, so I’m not sure what the team will look like.
“But he’s definitely knocking on the door the way he’s played, and he can play anywhere in the halves or as a fullback or off the bench as a utility, so it’ll be interesting to see.”
After Ryan Papenhuyzen was ruled out of the series opener, Jack Wighton and Hynes became the two potential rosters for Fittler’s number 14 jersey.
Wighton has Origin experience on his side, but Hynes’ season so far has been impressive, guiding his side through the park and transforming the Sharks into contenders for the premiership.
Hynes also has incredible utility as he has played in both halves and as a fullback for his former club, the Melbourne Storm.
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MUNSTER’S COBBO LOF
Maroons incumbent Cameron Munster compared Broncos young gunman Selwyn Cobbo to rugby legend Greg Inglis.
Inglis was one of the most electric players to grace the NRL and was a dominant performer for the Maroons over a 32-game span.
Meanwhile, many have asked 19-year-old Cobbo to take a place on the wing for Billy Slater’s Queensland side – befitting that of Inglis’ playing style.
“He’s a freak and he plays with absolute confidence,” Munster said.
“I don’t like to clearly compare him to certain players, but he has a lot of GI (Greg Inglis) similarities – left hand, strong defence, very elusive and very fast.
“He doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff and when you see someone like that not just doing the flashy stuff, he’s doing the hard stuff too, I’m sure he has caught the attention of the Queensland selectors.”
Cobbo put in another strong performance on Friday night, scoring another try to score ten four-pointers in his last six games.