The news of Latrell Mitchell‘s withdrawal from the State of Origin series due to a calf injury may actually be an advantage for NSW. This setback can inspire other members of the team to elevate their game, and with six Panthers players on the team, it keeps the club’s combination intact. Former Panther Api Koroisau is at dummy half, and another former club mate Matt Burton now comes in as 18th man.
Last year, Queensland turned a huge loss into a positive when they suffered a blow with Cameron Munster‘s shock withdrawal due to Covid-19. Young Cowboy Tom Dearden replaced him and produced a phenomenal performance. Munster’s absence lifted the players around him, resulting in a 22-12 victory.
The loss of Mitchell hasn’t had a significant impact on the bookmakers, who have still made the Blues favourites to win the series opener in Adelaide. NSW has moved out slightly from $1.65 to $1.85, while Queensland remains clear outsiders, but coming in from $2.25 to $2.
Stephen Crichton, a player in-form, will take over Mitchell’s left centre spot. The only minor issue is that he usually plays on the right edge alongside Brian To’o, but NSW Coach Brad Fittler could shift Tom Trbojevic to the left to partner with Josh Addo-Carr, depending on whether he wants to maintain the club combination.
It is imperative that the Blues focus on the positives and quickly get over Mitchell’s loss. The next man up mentality has been the foundation of Origin folklore and the Queenslanders know this firsthand. Therefore, they won’t write NSW off due to one player’s absence.