James Tedesco and Nicho Hynes facing State of Origin axe as NSW coach sends defiant message

Tedesco and Hynes face a battle to retain their Blues spots for Game II.

Blues coach Michael Maguire will head back to the drawing board following a State of Origin Game I disaster against the Maroons, with calls already growing for him to axe James Tedesco and Nicho Hynes for the remainder of the series. Maguire's first game as NSW coach couldn't have gone much worse, with debutant centre Joseph Suaalii sent off just seven minutes into Wednesday night's clash after his shoulder made direct contact with Reece Walsh's head.

With a man advantage for the more than 70 minutes that followed, Queensland ran away with the game, scoring a comfortable 38-10 victory in Sydney on Wednesday night. While the Blues' game plan and structure all went out the window following Suaalii's dismissal, Maguire now faces the dilemma of whether he reverts to his original selection of Dylan Edwards at fullback over Tedesco and if he replaces Hynes, who struggled to have much of an impact, with Mitchell Moses.

Pictured left Nicho Hynes and James Tedesco and right
Blues fans are calling for Michael Maguire to axe Nicho Hynes and James Tedesco for State of Origin Game II. Image: AAP

Maguire's side will head to Melbourne on June 26 and must win to keep their hopes of a series win alive. While many of Maguire's controversial selection decisions paid off, such as Zac Lomax, Spencer Leniu and Reece Robson, Tedesco - who was rushed into the side after Edwards was ruled out on the weekend with a quad injury - had an up-and-down evening.

Despite calls for Penrith fullback Edwards to be given the Blues fullback spot, Maguire's predecessor Brad Fittler, continued to show loyalty to Tedesco. Maguire, however, insisted he would pick solely on form and turfed Tedesco for the Panthers No.1 for Game I only to be forced to recall the Roosters fullback after Edwards picked up an injury in Blues camp.

Given another chance to impress due to the unfortunate injury to Edwards, in his 23rd straight Origin game, Tedesco showed glimpses of his best but wasn't able to put together a complete 80-minute performance. Early in the night, the Roosters fullback was everywhere and even picked up an early try after latching on to a Jarome Luai grubberkick to get the Blues on the board but as fatigue set in, he made a couple of poor defensive decisions to go with a pair of handling errors.

Both he and Hynes likely needed a big game to lock down their spot but much like Tedesco, Hynes had a mixed bag in Game I. The Cronulla halfback struggled to leave his stamp on the game from the opening minute. He started the match with a grubber kick that went dead in-goal and saw the Maroons with an extra tackle go up the other end and get on the scoreboard.

His highlight was a well-placed kick across field that Zac Lomax got on the end of to get the Blues back into the game just after half-time. But then as NSW tried to surge back into the game Hynes went missing. And Blues fans are calling for both he and Tedesco to be cut from the team for Game II.

Following the match a dejected Maguire was pressed on his halfback's performance. But the Blues coach said he wouldn't be criticising any of his players' efforts until he went back and rewatched the game.

"I won't make any comment about someone's game until I go back and have a look at it," Maguire said. "There was a pretty disappointed change room and I'm not going to talk about people's performances here. I'll have a look at it first and talk to them individually."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 04: NSW Blues coach Michael Maguire speaks to the media during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin Media Session at Pullman at Sydney Olympic Park on June 04, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Michael Maguire believes the Blues can still win the State of Origin series despite their heavy Game I defeat.

Despite the disappointing Game I defeat, Maguire insists his side is capable of defying history and denying Queensland of a third straight Origin series victory. The team who have won Game I has been victorious in 31 of the 42 State of Origin series, with the Blues only rebounding from 1-0 down three times in their history.

And to make matters even worse NSW will have to win the next two matches away from home in Melbourne and Brisbane if they are to win the series. Only once in history has a team won the final two games away from home after going down 1-0, with that being the NSW team in 1994. And even if the Blues do draw level at 1-1 in Melbourne, they have lost their last six deciders at Suncorp Stadium.


But despite history being against them, Maguire is confident the Blues can turn things around. "I've been in this circumstance before, so I know exactly what we'll do," he said.

"I'll obviously talk to the players. If you have 13 players out there, the whole game is a different ball game. I'm really confident in where the players are taking what we're doing."

with AAP