With Nathan Cleary injured and out for the State of Origin series, NSW Coach Brad Fittler is now in search of a new halfback. Nicho Hynes and Adam Reynolds are both touted as the top contenders for the position. NSW must make a formidable comeback on June 21 when they take on Queensland at Suncorp Stadium, hoping to keep their series alive on Queensland soil and win the decider eventually. Fittler has acknowledged that his own role is also on the line in Brisbane.
South Sydney Rabbitohs‘ Cameron Murray‘s groin strain is not as bad as initially feared, and the player may be available for selection for the upcoming weekend. Fittler, Greg Alexander and Andrew Johns were in contact immediately after Cleary’s injury, exploring their options for game two. Parramatta’s Mitchell Moses is also being considered for the role, and Cody Walker‘s affiliation with Reynolds at South Sydney could play into the decision-making process as well.
Additionally, Cleary’s absence could impact several other selections in the NSW set-up. Various club combinations within the Blues’ options include Latrell Mitchell‘s expected return from a calf injury and Damien Cook pushing incumbent hooker Api Koroisau. Fittler always says that his side is written down in faint pencil before the final club match of the round, which finishes a day later than usual next week due to the public holiday Eels–Bulldogs game on Monday.
The second game of the Origin series could also see the return of veteran backrower Felise Kaufusi and Kangaroos World Cup tourist Jeremiah Nanai to the Queensland team after missing Origin I through suspension. On the other hand, Tom Gilbert‘s dislocated shoulder has left him out for the season, and Jai Arrow is also out for the series following his ankle surgery that requires him to be sidelined for up to two months.
Queensland’s options to replace Arrow on the bench include Kurt Capewell, Corey Horsburgh, and J’maine Hopgood, with the latter two aiming to push Christian Welch as the next best player for replacing Arrow. Whether a barely blooded NSW No.7 or a battle-hardened veteran takes on the role, NSW needs a fearless halfback to help seal their victory in the upcoming match at Suncorp Stadium.