Nicho Hynes was concerned he would be left on the bench for the full 80-minute duration of the State of Origin opener, after having a similar experience in the 2020 NRL Grand Final. However, he eventually made his way onto the field of the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday night when Tom Trbojevic was concussed with 11 minutes remaining. The original plan was for Hynes to relieve hooker Api Koroisau around the hour mark, but the Cronulla playmaker was held back from the action. Despite this, Hynes was given a warm reception from the crowd, though he was left feeling dejected after the game, reflecting on the missed tackle he made.
Hynes is now looking forward to a second game opportunity and hopes to make a greater impact. However, he is not making any excuses for his previous performance, stating that he had ten minutes to make an impact in an unfamiliar position. He remains positive and is focusing on training with the Sharks and putting in a good performance on Saturday.
Hynes expressed concern that he may not see any game time, recalling the 2020 NRL Grand Final, where he warmed the bench and never saw any game time when Melbourne defeated Penrith. However, he remained composed and was determined to stay ready if the opportunity arose.
Coach Brad Fittler has been criticised for not properly utilising Hynes, and this issue is a major talking point leading up to game two. The coach previously noted Hynes could have been played at hooker, but decided to keep Api Koroisau in that position. Commenting on the issue, Fittler said: “The ‘Turbo’ thing happened with 12 minutes to go, so there was an opportunity there. It wasn’t just him when they [Queensland] came down that side – that whole edge relaxed for a bit.”
Despite his disappointment, Hynes remains a popular player in the NRL and was awarded the game’s top gong last year for his efforts in the halves for Cronulla. His older brother Wade was also in the sheds with him, and the brothers were praised for helping secure the release of their mother from prison. However, their mother, Julie, did not travel to Adelaide.