Api Koroisau’s classy response to State of Origin snub

Jasper Bruce |

Wests Tigers hooker Api Koroisau is keen not to burn his State of Origin bridges with NSW.
Wests Tigers hooker Api Koroisau is keen not to burn his State of Origin bridges with NSW.

Api Koroisau holds no grudge towards coach Michael Maguire for overlooking him from the State of Origin opener, insisting NSW have named a strong team for the clash at Accor Stadium.

Lavishing praise on Reece Robson, the man who beat him to play No.9 for the Blues, Koroisau pledged to continue to make himself available for selection.

The omission of three-time premiership-winning hooker Koroisau from the Blues side to face Queensland was one of the biggest selection shocks ahead of Wednesday’s game-one clash.

“I was surprised (he missed out),” Koroisau’s Wests Tigers teammate Alex Twal said.

“He’s the best hooker in the game.”

Tigers captain Koroisau missed the final two games of the 2023 Origin series with a broken jaw but had been widely tipped to reclaim the No.9 jersey for Maguire’s first game in charge.

Instead, North Queensland rake Robson was chosen as the only out-and-out hooker in a NSW team fighting to come back from two consecutive series defeats.

Maguire called Koroisau with the news prior to announcing his team publicly two Sundays ago, and the hooker has since made peace with his omission.

“You respect his decision,” Koroisau said on Tuesday, addressing the selection call for the first time.

“He picked a great team … a really hard-working team. I’m just excited to watch the boys get out there tomorrow night.

“I got to play in there last year and the year before. I’m just grateful that I got the opportunity.

“My hand will always be up in case he ever needed me.

“I’m just excited for the opportunities I did get. I’m here if he needs me.”

Robson does not possess the same attacking smarts as Koroisau, but can be relied upon for big minutes and is a good defender.

The Wests Tigers man was impressed by Robson’s first two games in blue last series.

“He’s an incredible athlete, a great rugby league player and especially a great hooker,” Koroisau said.

“Defensively he’s really strong, he’s really fit, too. I’m expecting him to go out there and steal a few metres out there.”

Koroisau’s positive attitude has made an impression at the Tigers.

“He’s taken it like a true champion does,” Twal said.

“He put all his focus on preparing us well this week and playing his part in our game (against St George Illawarra) this Friday.”