Trbojevic admits shock at becoming NSW Origin captain

Scott Bailey |

Jake Trbojevic promises to lead NSW in Origin with his trademark passion.
Jake Trbojevic promises to lead NSW in Origin with his trademark passion.

Jake Trbojevic has admitted shock at being named NSW’s new State of Origin captain, with coach Michael Maguire describing him as a man who embodies the entire state.

Trbojevic received the biggest cheer from a crowd of Blues fans when he arrived at the team hotel on Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after being told he would take over from the axed James Tedesco.

“I was very shocked, but I’m also very proud,” forward Trbojevic said. 

“I’ll play the way I always do, I’ll be passionate and that side will come out in me.

“To captain the Blues, it will be a great experience.

“Obviously I don’t captain at club level, but one of my strengths is being passionate. I won’t change anything. And that’s what Madge told me to do.”

Trbojevic said he had not received any advice from Manly teammate Daly Cherry-Evans, with the pair to face off opposing skippers.

In doing so, the pair will become the first clubmates to lead the two states in series since Sydney Roosters pair Brad Fittler and Adrian Lam in 2000.

Maguire admitted Trbojevic may have even been questioning his place in the team, before receiving a call to be told he was now the Blues skipper.

“You can’t ask for much more than when Jake talks about the jersey and the passion that he has for it,” Maguire said.

“We’re a big state. There’s a lot that goes on. People out in the country, going through good times and tough times. And in the city. 

“Jakey, to me, represents a lot of that, by the way he talks and the passion that he has towards what the jersey means.

“He probably wasn’t sure where he sat from a team point of view, but everyone can see why people love playing with him.”

Trbojevic was not alone in his surprise on Sunday.

Many thought Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii may never play Origin after signing a deal worth close to $5 million over three years with Australian rugby from 2025.

But Maguire said he had no hesitation in handing him an Origin debut.

A pending move to rugby union did not hinder Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii’s selection for the Blues. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

“I met Joseph at the age of 13, tried to recruit him a long time ago. I know he’s passionate around rugby league,” Maguire said. 

“His future is the future but at this present moment we’ve got a job to do and that’s performing and playing for the Blues. 

“And I know he’s grown up wanting to do this.”

Suaalii said he had never considered whether the rugby deal would end his Origin hopes.

“I was just thinking about playing good footy for the Roosters and anything that come off that was just a bonus,” he said.