Tedesco axed as fullback in shock NSW Origin shake up

Scott Bailey and Jasper Bruce |

James Tedesco has been ditched as fullback in Michael Maguire’s first NSW Blues side.
James Tedesco has been ditched as fullback in Michael Maguire’s first NSW Blues side.

James Tedesco has been axed as NSW’s State of Origin fullback, with Michael Maguire to call up Dylan Edwards in a bold start to his coaching tenure.

Maguire will name his maiden Blues squad on Sunday night, with Jake Trbojevic as captain and Nicho Hynes to partner Jarome Luai in the halves despite a calf injury for the Cronulla star.

Reece Robson is set to win the race for the No.9 jersey ahead of Apisai Koroisau, while Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii and Zac Lomax are expected to make their debut in the backline.

Nicho Hynes will be included in the halves by the Blues for Origin I. (Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS)

Cameron McInnes will make his debut and could start at lock, while Haumole Olakau’atu is also in line for his first Blues jersey.

The decision to drop Tedesco for the June 5 series opener at Accor Stadium in Sydney is by far the most notable.

The 2018 Dally M medallist is arguably the best fullback in NSW Origin history, and has played a record 22 straight matches for the Blues.

But the Roosters star will become the first Australia Test captain to be dropped from their State of Origin side while still leading the Kangaroos.

Tedesco had been under pressure to keep his NSW spot since early last year, but has been in a rich vein of form for the Roosters in recent weeks.

Despite that, Maguire has opted to reward Edwards for being among the NRL’s best fullbacks while winning three straight premierships at Penrith.

Dyland Edwards of the Panthers.
Dylan Edwards’ consistent form for Penrith has been rewarded. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

Tedesco’s axing means Trbojevic will take over as Blues captain, leaving Manly with the skippers of NSW and Queensland – who will be led by Daly Cherry-Evans – on their books.

Meanwhile Maguire has placed his faith in Hynes despite a horror outing for the Sharks halfback against Penrith on Saturday night that ended with more concerns over his calf.

Hynes failed to get through the match, and underwent scans on the sore leg on Sunday.

It is likely he will have to be on a managed workload, causing potential issues for NSW given the amount of new combinations.

But a lack of fit halves – with Nathan Cleary injured and Mitch Moses out since late March – has led Maguire to stick with the Cronulla star.

Picked on the bench for last year’s series opener, Hynes has since admitted a brief stint at centre and subsequent axing knocked his confidence.

But he has rebounded this season, helping guide Cronulla to the top of the table at the halfway mark of the regular season.

Luai was also dropped by NSW during last year’s Origin series, but is back to his best at Penrith this season.

Luai is one of five Panthers in the squad, with Liam Martin picked but still waiting to undergo a medical assessment after a minor hamstring strain.

Brian To’o is on the wing alongside former Penrith star Stephen Crichton, while Isaah Yeo is the fifth Panther in the squad but may come off the bench.