Latest updates on State of Origin 2023

In the lead up to Origin II, NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler faced questions about criticism on social media regarding his team selections. During a press conference, Fittler responded to a comment by saying, “if you listen to the fans, you end up sitting with them.” This statement now seems to hold some truth after the Blues suffered a comprehensive 32-6 defeat to Queensland, resulting in a series loss.

Fittler has had to deal with a nightmare of injuries, particularly the absence of star centre Latrell Mitchell in both matches. The injury to Tom Trbojevic early in Origin II only added to the woes. However, there have also been tactical decisions that have come into question.

The decision to play Damien Cook at centre instead of Cam Murray and Isaah Yeo has received the most criticism. There have also been ongoing debates about selection choices from last year, such as the removal of Josh Addo-Carr and Jack Wighton’s non-selection in the decider. Wighton has since retired from representative rugby league.

Since taking up the position in 2018, Fittler has won three out of six series, which is a decent average. However, it may not be enough to secure his job after two consecutive series losses. Several players’ Origin futures are now at risk.

Payne Haas delivered an impressive performance in Origin II, and his position in the team seems secure. Brian To’o, with his reliability as a winger, is also expected to remain a part of the side. Isaah Yeo’s role as the starting lock may be up for debate, with Cameron Murray putting pressure on him for that position. Murray, too, is considered safe but needs to be better utilized. Liam Martin has been the Blues’ standout player throughout the series and his attitude is perfect for Origin. Reece Robson has also shown glimpses of his representative ability and will compete with Blayke Brailey for the hooker position in the future.

Nathan Cleary, despite questions about his performances in Origin, is regarded as the best halfback in the competition and will likely stay. Latrell Mitchell is also seen as a certainty for future Origin matches due to the impact he brings to the team.

There are concerns surrounding James Tedesco, as he has struggled in this year’s series. Dylan Edwards has emerged as a back-to-back premiership fullback, and with players like Ryan Papenhuyzen, Latrell, and Trbojevic also competing for the position, there is considerable depth. Josh Addo-Carr’s form in a Blues jersey has been affected since being dropped last year, and his performances this series have not been up to par.

There is room for plenty of debate in the centres. Stephen Crichton has been solid, but it may be time for Campbell Graham to get an opportunity. Tom Trbojevic’s injury history makes it difficult for the Blues to carry a utility on the bench. With Latrell, Crichton, Graham, and Trbojevic all competing for two spots, there is fierce competition.

Hudson Young has the potential to be an Origin player but has struggled to make an impact in his first two games. Stefano Utoikamanu’s limited minutes have not allowed for a thorough assessment of his performance. Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard will face scrutiny, and Jake Trbojevic will return next year.

Jarome Luai has shown great effort and passion but may need to make way for someone else at five-eighth. Matt Burton is knocking on the door, and Nicho Hynes deserves an opportunity. Damien Cook’s excellent form for the Rabbitohs may not be enough to secure his position, as Robson and Brailey emerge as potential options.

Tyson Frizell had a strong performance in game one but was underutilized in Origin II. This may be a chance to look towards the future with players like Haumole Olakau’atu and Keaon Koloamatangi emerging.

There are several players who could potentially be brought into the Origin squad. One surprising option is to try and convince Jack Wighton, who recently retired, to return for an SOS call. Campbell Graham’s exceptional form should also be recognized, and Matt Burton’s utility value may appeal to the Blues. Nicho Hynes, the reigning Dally M medallist, should not be ignored, and Spencer Leniu’s form for the Panthers deserves consideration. It is also a surprise that Tevita Pangai Junior and Stefano Utoikamanu have been picked ahead of him.

In conclusion, the Blues’ series loss in Origin II has put several players’ futures in doubt. There are strong contenders who may replace underperforming or injured players, and there is plenty of room for debates and speculation about the team’s future.

 

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