NSW’s State of Origin campaign has been thrown into disarray with Latrell Mitchell injured for Game 1. Mitchell’s absence sees Stephen Crichton come into the team. Meanwhile, Tom Trbojevic is set to continue in his roving role, which was a key factor in NSW’s dominant Game 1 victory last year. Trbojevic scored two tries on the right edge, another on the left, and set up a try for Mitchell in a stunning individual display.
Queensland coach Billy Slater was concerned by Trbojevic’s impact, saying “They need to adjust their defensive line and get more numbers over to his side of the field.” Identifying Trbojevic’s in-field incursions has been one thing, stopping them is another. NRL sides, most notably Melbourne, have found success in swamping Trbojevic. At Origin level, everyone is elite and everyone’s a threat, so having a roving Trbojevic could prove critical for NSW.
Trbojevic’s teammate James Tedesco is excited to play alongside the Blues star, saying “Tommy’s had a lot of success here coming into the middle and that’s the fullback role, and it suits him.” Tedesco’s own game is likely to benefit from Trbojevic’s presence with the Roosters fullback saying, “It’s pretty good for my game. I find myself either getting up in support of those guys like Turbo or Latrell, sniffing around for an opportunity.”
Mitchell’s absence removes a key focal point for Queensland’s defence. Fittler’s Blues have been noticeably defence-minded in camp and Trbojevic is of a similar mind. He noted that he’ll pick his moments, saying “You’re trying to read that and pick your moments. I’m not someone that gets pinned down on one side of the field. I’ll do my role out there at centre, that’s what has to come first.”
Trbojevic’s influence on NSW’s game-plan is vital, and while Queensland will attempt to counter it, the Blues are likely to persist with their roving No.1.