Jake Trbojevic named NSW Origin captain as Isaah Yeo decision leaves NRL world perplexed

Trbojevic has been named Blues captain for State of Origin I.

Michael Maguire has begun his NSW coaching tenure with a few contentious calls, arguably none more divisive than announcing Jake Trbojevic as Blues captain for State of Origin I. Maguire confirmed the decision to hand the Manly lock the armband on Sunday night, after dropping last year's captain and NSW regular James Tedesco from the side.

Maguire had several headaches for this year's Origin series with numerous players injured and the selection dilemma of whether to stay true with Tedesco at fullback or go for arguably the most in-form player in the NRL, Dylan Edwards. After opting to go with the latter, Maguire had to appoint a new captain to attempt to lead the troops to their first Origin shield since 2021.

Pictured Isaah Yeo left and Jake Trbojevic right
Michael Maguire has began his NSW coaching tenure by appointing Jake Trbojevic as NSW captain after axing James Tedesco. Image: Getty

Tedesco has played 22 matches for the Blues and held the captaincy since mid-2020 - replacing Boyd Cordner who stood himself down after a series of head knocks. But after missing out on a place in the side, Maguire was largely expected to name Panthers lock Isaah Yeo as the new Blues captain.

Yeo watched NSW lose the opening game in Adelaide in 2020 before making his debut in Game II of that series in place of Cordner. The Panthers lock has since established himself as one of the premier players in the game and is the co-captain of Penrith. Kangaroos assistant Michael Hagan - who spent time with Yeo at the 2022 World Cup - has even previously said Yeo is the type of player you can build a team around and described him as a natural leader.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 04: James Tedesco of the Blues reacts after losing game one of the 2020 State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at the Adelaide Oval on November 04, 2020 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Dylan Edwards pipped James Tedesco to be named as NSW fullback.

However, after being named on the bench, Maguire opted to name Trbojevic as captain for Game I. The 30-year-old has played 16 Origin matches for the Blues since debuting in 2017 and is the first NSW skipper in recent memory who does not regularly lead his club side.

"I've watched Jake for a long period of time. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he represents the people of NSW perfectly," Maguire said on Monday morning. "He represents where I want to start on this journey with this team." But the selection of Trbojevic hasn't gone down well with everyone, with many questioning why an 80-minute player like Yeo is not only not the captain but on the bench in the first place.

The NRL world had been calling for Edwards to replace Tedesco as NSW fullback for months but Maguire's decision to do so still came as a shock to many. It was one of several big selection decisions by Maguire, with 11 changes made from Game III last year. The Blues coach also handed six players their Origin debuts.

It's no surprise that Brian To'o and Stephen Crichton fill one of the centre-wing slots, but the inclusion of Zac Lomax on the wing and Joseph Suaalii in the other centre spot was somewhat unexpected. While in the halves Nicho Hynes was named at halfback despite his calf injury, with Jarome Luai winning a recall at five-eighth ahead of Matt Burton.


Payne Haas and Jake Trbojevic are the two front-rowers, with Trbojevic expected to make the 17 but not to be named captain. Yeo being relegated to the bench was the biggest surprise in the forward pack with Maguire opting for Cameron McInnes at lock and Liam Martin and Angus Crichton in the second-row.

While Reece Robson was selected at hooker rather than Api Koroisau in another surprising selection. Haumole Olakau'atu, Spencer Leniu and Hudson Young make up the bench, while Burton, Luke Keary and Mitch Barnett are in the extended squad. Despite Burton being named as the 18th man on Sunday night, many are anticipating that come game day he will be in the 17 due to the fact Maguire hasn't named a bench utility.

  1. Dylan Edwards

  2. Brian To'o

  3. Stephen Crichton

  4. Joseph Suaalii

  5. Zac Lomax

  6. Jarome Luai

  7. Nicho Hynes

  8. Jake Trbojevic (c)

  9. Reece Robson

  10. Payne Haas

  11. Liam Martin

  12. Angus Crichton

  13. Cameron McInnes

  14. Isaah Yeo

  15. Haumole Olakau'atu

  16. Spencer Leniu

  17. Hudson Young

Reserves: 18. Matt Burton 19. Luke Keary 20. Mitchell Barnett