‘It’s irrelevant’: Maguire rejects Hynes form fears

Scott Bailey and Joel Gould |

NSW have every faith in the form and fitness of Nicho Hynes (pic), coach Michael Maguire insists.
NSW have every faith in the form and fitness of Nicho Hynes (pic), coach Michael Maguire insists.

A defiant Michael Maguire has rejected concerns over Nicho Hynes’ State of Origin build up, declaring the halfback’s 2023 NSW debut ancient history and insisting the Cronulla star is fully fit.

Hynes goes into Wednesday night’s series opener as the most scrutinised player in either team, with his tight right calf forcing a managed start to life as Blues No.7 in camp last week.

NSW are confident Hynes will be able to perform normal in-play kicking duties, as well as take shots at goal.

Blues coach Maguire allayed any concerns on Tuesday, labelling Hynes 100 per cent fit and stating he was proud of the halfback’s preparations.

NSW Blues team group.
Michael Maguire (centre) is preparing to take the Blues into Origin battle for the first time. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Of equal importance for NSW will be the player’s form.

The 27-year-old has made no secret of the demons created by last year’s Origin debut, when he came on at centre in game one, missed a tackle and was subsequently dropped.

Adding to the pressure, Mitch Moses is also fit again – and lurking in the background to push for the Blues’ No.7 jersey.

But Maguire was adamant last year’s events would no longer be on the Cronulla star’s mind.

“That’s history,” Maguire said.

“You’re thrown into the deep end in a quick game, it’s moving. If anything, it’s a great experience for him.

“Everyone faces a little bit (of adversity) in their career and he’s no different.

“He’s prepared really well. And he knows his role coming into this game. So I don’t look at (last year).”

More recent history is also notable.

Hynes sat second on the Dally M leaderboard before it went behind closed doors last week, but saved his worst performance for his most recent game, against Penrith.

On a horror night for the No.7, he kicked two balls out on the full as Cronulla were beaten 42-0, with Hynes going off for a first-half head injury assessment before succumbing to a recurrence of his calf problem.

“Don’t worry about that one. Have you watched the previous 10 games he’s played?” Maguire said when asked about Hynes’ last start.

“You roll on, he’s a human being … no doubt he was thinking about Origin (that night against Penrith).

“I’ve had many a player go through exactly what he went through in that last game.

“It’s actually irrelevant.”

Billy Slater and Reece Walsh.
The Maroons have no plans to target specific players, coach Billy Slater (left) insists. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Game one looms as crucial for NSW, with the second fixture on June 26 on neutral turf in Adelaide before Origin III in Brisbane.

Only once have the Blues rebounded to lift the shield after losing game one at home and spending the rest of the series on the road.

Maguire promised he would make no late changes to his side, ruling out 18th man Matt Burton coming onto the bench.

Maroons coach Billy Slater kept his cards closer to his chest on Tuesday.

Slater also steered clear of publicly stating his side would target first-time starting halfback Hynes.

“If you put too much energy into one opposition player, you forget about your task,” Slater said.

“I’ve played this game at this level, I was fortunate to play for Queensland 31 times – every position is under pressure, it’s a tough game.

“We will be trying to get our game on and that will flow on to pressure on the opposition.

“There is no one individual we are isolating or trying to zone in on.”