Jake Trbojevic in ugly fallout as NSW captain could be facing the axe for State of Origin II

Trbojevic played less than 30 minutes in the Blues' heavy Game I defeat.

NRL commentator Andrew Voss believes Blues captain Jake Trbojevic may be dropped for Game II after his limited involvement in the State of Origin opener. NSW coach Michael Maguire handed the Manly lock the armband after initially dropping last year's captain and NSW regular James Tedesco from the side.

Maguire was largely expected to name Panthers lock Isaah Yeo as the new Blues captain when Tedesco was axed in favour of Dylan Edwards but instead made Trbojevic the NSW skipper. The move was heavily criticised from the outset but following a Game I disaster, calls are mounting to drop the Manly veteran from the side entirely for Game II.

Pictured Jake Trbojevic
NRL commentator Andrew Voss has questioned why forward Jake Trbojevic was named as Blues captain in the first place following his underwhelming performance in Game I. Image: Getty

With the Blues on the back foot almost immediately after debutant centre Joseph Suaalii was sent off just seven minutes into Wednesday night's clash after his shoulder made direct contact with Reece Walsh's head, if ever NSW needed a true leader it was then. Trbojevic started in the front row alongside Payne Haas, but the Sea Eagles star struggled to find his footing in the game as NSW was left to rely on other forwards to make inroads through the middle of the park.

Trbojevic was the first player taken off the field by Maguire in the 25th minute and didn’t return to the action until the 75th minute when the game was well and truly over. After making just five runs in the match for minimal metres, Trbojevic made next to no positive impact on the game and is now at risk of not only losing his captaincy for Game II but his spot in the team altogether.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 12:  Channel 9 commentators Wally Lewis (r)and Andrew Voss do a piece to camera before the start of  the round 23 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos at Dairy Farmers Stadium on August 12, 2011 in Townsville, Australia.  (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Andrew Voss (left) says the decision to select Jake Trbojevic as captain was a mistake.

And Voss says it was something that he could see coming from a mile away. “On (Jake) Trbojevic, the captain of NSW, I hate to say I told you so but I did say (it),” Voss said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.

“They made a rod for their back by giving Jake the captaincy, Jake doesn’t need the ‘c’ next to his name to be the leader and the captain. But now that you’ve made him the captain, this was always going to happen, I think even (if the game) was 13 versus 13, he’s not playing a lot of minutes, so that was always going to be a discussion topic.

“It’s not a win or lose on the game, it’s not a game changer but it was always going to be a discussion topic and now it becomes a big topic because they lose and it’s so little minutes, it’s a long time off the field, the captain just sitting their watching. There’s no way he can turn the course of the game.”

In less than half an hour of playing time, Trbojevic only made five runs for a mere 37 metres and with such minimal impact, there are arguably better options to replace him. The likes of Mitch Barnett and Terrell May would have all arguably made an impact in Game I and may be logical replacements for the Manly lock if Maguire chooses to go a different route in Game II.

Former NSW advisor and selector Greg Alexander believes there may not be a place in the team for Trbojevic in Game II as his lack of impact was made abundantly clear in in the Origin opener. "You needed fast legs, you needed speed out there," Alexander added. "The bench was speed, Spencer Leniu, Hudson Young, Hamole Olakau’atu, young quick legs."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Greg Alexander NSW Blues adviser looks on during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin Training Session at NSWRL Centre of Excellence on July 07, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)
Former NSW Blues Chief Advisor and selector Greg Alexander believes there may not be a spot in the team for Jake Trbojevic in Game II.


Wide World of Sports columnist 'The Mole' also called on Maguire to axe Trbojevic. "If a captain is going to play less than half an hour and make a mere 37 metres from five runs, there's just no point having him there," he wrote on Thursday.

"Jake is Origin through and through, but if that's the way the Blues are going to use him he needs to go. NSW will get more value out of Barnett, a player capable of big minutes with the ability to bend the defensive line."

Jake Trbojevic, pictured here in State of Origin I.
Jake Trbojevic (centre) could be on the chopping block for State of Origin II. Image: Getty

Phil Gould agreed that the reason the skipper spent most of Game I warming the bench was because there were simply more effective options than him and said there needed to be changes to the side ahead of Game II. "I thought the signs were there even before they got down to 12 men," Gould said.

"They did break them down the left side and had already scored a try. The speed of Queensland and the creativity was always going to be a problem. It was just exacerbated by being down to 12 men and allowed Queensland to virtually play as they like."