NSW Blues 2024 State of Origin predicted team: Maguire set to overhaul squad in search of winning combination


New coach Michael Maguire is considering as many as 50 players for the State of Origin series opener with not even captain James Tedesco assured of keeping his spot. 

After two straight years of series defeats at the hands of Billy Slater’s rejuvenated Queenslanders and the exit of Brad Fittler as coach, the Blues are certain to field a new-look side when the 2024 interstate battle kicks off at Accor Stadium on June 5. 

Maguire has almost all options on the table with Payne Haas and Nathan Cleary on the comeback trail this weekend from their injuries and Latrell Mitchell due back from suspension in Round 10. 

The Blues will name their team after Round 12 in just over a month and several players need to show they are worthy of a chance to wear the sky-blue jersey in Maguire’s first squad in the Origin arena.

“You’ve got to have experience although one thing I’ve learnt through international football is that some players can step up to another level and some struggle, so it’s finding the right people who can step into this arena and finding the right balance,” Maguire said.

“There’s not far between the talent, it’s the character of the player that I’m keen to get a good understanding of because building the character of the team is really important on where we are right now.

“I’m continuing conversations with players about performing well and being consistent.”

Last year’s team

Origin III 

1 James Tedesco
2 Brian To’o
3 Stephen Crichton
4 Bradman Best
5 Josh Addo-Carr
6 Cody Walker
7 Mitchell Moses
8 Jake Trbojevic
9 Damien Cook
10 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
11 Keaon Koloamatangi
12 Liam Martin
13 Cameron Murray
14 Isaah Yeo
15 Jacob Saifiti
16 Reece Robson 
17 Clint Gutherson

The Blues overhauled their line-up for game three last year and they recorded a consolation 24-10 win on home turf. 

From that side, hooker Damien Cook is all but certain to be omitted this time around with the veteran Rabbitoh languishing in the NSW Cup while Souths teammate Cody Walker and Knights forward Tyson Frizell have likely played their last match for the Blues. 

Only winger Brian To’o and forwards Cameron Murray, Liam Martin and Isaah Yeo could be considered automatic selections from the Origin III side with Maguire failing to give Tedesco a guarantee recently when asked whether the skipper would again be lining up at fullback.

The spine

Cleary is due back in the next week or two from his hamstring injury and, if fit, he will be the halfback. Whether his Panthers teammate Jarome Luai returns as his fellow playmaker is up in the air with Cronulla’s Nicho Hynes and Canterbury five-eighth Matt Burton mounting strong selection cases. 

Mitchell Moses is an outside chance of making an early return from a broken foot in time for game one but it would be a risk to then pitch him into the Origin cauldron. 

Tedesco has been steady at fullback for the Roosters but Penrith’s Dylan Edwards and Manly star Tom Trbojevic have been overshadowing him at club level and both have strong claims to the NSW No.1 jersey. 

At hooker, Reece Robson played his first two Origins last year and is vying with Api Koroisau and Cronulla’s Blayke Brailey for the starting job. 

(Photo by George Wood/Getty Images for RLWC)

The backs

Mitchell is running out of time to show he is worth another run while Trbojevic is a certain starter at centre if he is not needed at fullback.

Bradman Best scored two tries on debut in game three last year but has been quiet for Newcastle this season while Canterbury recruit Stephen Crichton is another big-game performer in the mix. 

On the wings, To’o will get one jersey while Zac Lomax is mounting a serious challenge to depose Josh Addo-Carr for the other flank with rugby-bound Roosters speedster Joseph Suaalii another option.

The pack

Haas will spearhead the Blues up front, Yeo, Martin and Murray bring experience but the other five forward spots are up for grabs. 

Rabbitohs second-rower Keaon Koloamatangi impressed in his Origin debut last year while Manly’s Haumole Olakau’atu has been in strong form in recent weeks. 

Maguire is reportedly considering a more-experienced hard worker like Cronulla veteran Cameron McInnes while the likes of Jake Trbojevic, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo, Hudson Young, Jacob and Daniel Saifiti, and Stefano Utoikamanu are on the long list of candidates.

Liam Martin. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Possible Blues team

1 James Tedesco
2 Brian To’o
3 Tom Trbojevic
4 Stephen Crichton
5 Josh Addo-Carr
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Payne Haas
9 Api Koroisau
10 Junior Paulo
11 Cameron Murray
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Nicho Hynes
15 Cameron McInnes
16 Haumole Olakau’atu
17 Stefano Utoikamanu
18 Bradman Best

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