Maguire not mincing words as Blues coach hammers down on form but wipes out Burton


Michael Maguire was full of confidence on Monday morning that his overhaul of the Blues for Origin II would work because the team will have both good balance and form heading into next Wednesday’s must-win MCG match.

Latrell Mitchell is back in Blue to assert dominance on the left edge, while workhorse Cam Murray returns to the starting lock position after a hip injury in his 14th state game as the Blues try to force a series decider.

Parramatta’s on-field general Mitchell Moses was also rewarded with the keys at No.7 – replacing Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes who has had a nightmare two-cap NSW tenure.

Latrell Mitchell celebrates a try. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Maguire can see no question marks over the strength of the Blues’ 17, where spine members flourished over the weekend to head into camp with strong performances.

“I look at the team and I’ve got a good balance, everyone is in good form,” Maguire said on Monday morning.

The Blues coach addressed why Mitchell has been picked for game two after he was overlooked last month. 

“He’s playing great footy. I think everyone can see that, we don’t have to dig into that. He himself has a smile on his face. I went out and watched him play, he’s got a lot of spirit about what he’s doing,” Maguire said.

“We all know he’s a very talented, world class player and he’s showing that. Especially in the last month.”

Captain Jake Trbojevic was backed by his coach to bounce back after an underwhelming 29-minute performance in game one.

Maguire believes Trbojevic has a special ability to bring people together, something needed for NSW and their Origin future.

“He’s got the passion, he’s got the ability, he’s been there and experienced. I saw him around the players throughout the camp, just how he galvanised, he’s a player that everyone loves to play for,” Maguire said.

“Around the group he’s got a real strength at bringing people together.”

Connor Watson. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)[/caption]

The Blues have a new fix-it man in Connor Watson. Watson has been just that throughout his 135-game career, filling it for the Roosters with flair and speed at the ruck.

“He’ll probably jump on the front row if he needed to. He’s just got a lot of energy. He can play a lot of different positions .He’s sort of like the perfect 14,” Maguire said.

“I’d be comfortable to put him anywhere on the field. He’s shown that throughout his career, and he’s probably had a bit of bad luck over time just with the way his career’s gone, but it was a really good conversation to have with Connor yesterday.”

Watson’s state debut is a deserving reward for the utility who has struggled with injury, most recently tearing his patella tendon in his left knee during the 2023 pre season.

The former Rabbitohs and Tigers coach was more than pleased with the reinstatement of Dylan Edwards, who put in a massive shift on Sunday afternoon to leave no doubt over his selection.

“He does it every week. He’s scrambling, he’s backing up, he’s supporting, and defensively he was everywhere. That’s an easy choice,” Maguire said.

If NSW are to lose, it leaves coach Maguire in a real rut. He has named a top tier side (albeit without Nathan Cleary and Tom Trbojevic) who are all performing with class at club level. Queensland on the other hand, always stick to the man who can do the job, rather than prioritising best form.

A Blues series loss would leave selectors with their hands tied – which has been the case for the past three years – no true blueprint. The team of now is their best hope.

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