Mitchell Moses' classy act towards Nicho Hynes as NSW make call on State of Origin switch

Hynes appears certain to take his place for the Blues in the Origin opener.

Mitchell Moses has backed Nicho Hynes to "do the jersey proud" after NSW officials emphatically shot down the prospect of the Blues making a late switch in the halves for State of Origin I. Michael Maguire was reportedly keen to pick Moses at halfback for the Origin opener, but his return to the NRL from a fractured foot came just a few days late.

Moses missed 10 weeks with the injury before returning on Thursday night to help the Parramatta Eels take down the Sharks. The halfback produced a sparkling performance that probably would have seen him selected in the NSW team had it come just one round earlier.

Nicho Hynes and Mitchell Moses.
Nicho Hynes appears certain to play in State of Origin I amid calls for Mitchell Moses to be parachuted in. Image: AAP

But Maguire had to pick his team last Sunday night and because Moses hadn't yet returned he went with Hynes and Jarome Luai in the halves instead. Cronulla halfback Hynes certainly deserves the No.7 spot after a brilliant start to the year, and he might have been picked at five-eighth even if Moses was fit.

But Moses' performance on Thursday night sparked questions about whether it was too late to parachute him into the Blues team, especially with Hynes under an injury cloud with a dodgy calf. But Hynes has trained strongly in the last few days and with Luke Keary and Matt Burton already in the squad as back-up, NSWRL officials have closed the door on a potential Moses switch.

Moses said of the situation on Friday: “I hope they win. I think the team Madge (Maguire) has picked is unbelievable. I’ve got to play good footy here and that stuff will sort itself out, but I really hope they get the win. I wish them all the best. He’s picked a great side and I think they’ll get the job done.

“It’s a big opportunity for him (Hynes). He won a Dally M a few years ago and is playing great footy, so he deserves the opportunity. He’s going to go out there and do the jersey proud."

Nicho Hynes in NSW State of Origin camp.
Nicho Hynes ran strongly on Saturday in the final session of the Blues' camp in the Blue Mountains.

Moses revealed he tried to get back on the field sooner, but his foot didn't respond well. “I tried to push it and I tried to come back early to give myself every chance to get out there,” he explained.

“It was tough to watch from the sidelines, but I gave it every chance to try to come back early, but it just wasn’t ready. I’m just happy in myself that I gave it every chance and tried my best to come back early. I’ve got a screw in there which is a bit annoying. I’m probably going to feel it for the next few weeks.

“I probably only had one kicking session in the past 10 weeks and that was on Monday. To get that one off (the first kick against Cronulla) felt pretty good. I just had to be out there and be a voice and try to be involved as much as possible.

“I probably wasn’t really happy with my game, to be honest. There are areas (I can improve) because I put one out on the full and I’m probably getting used to the speed of the game. I think I can be a lot better in some areas, but I just needed to get through the 80 minutes and just be a voice. We were desperate and that’s what we needed to be.”

With Nathan Cleary set to miss the entire Origin series, Hynes has been entrusted with leading the Blues around the field. The halfback is desperate to atone for a missed tackle that led to a Queensland try in Game I last year, after which he was axed from the team by then-coach Brad Fittler. If Hynes fails to fire in Wednesday night's series opener, Maguire will be faced with a big decision on whether to bring Moses back in.

At Saturday's final training session before the NSW team returns from their Blue Mountains camp, Hynes ran as confidently as any point since being picked and is firming to keep his place. "He's heaps good," centre Stephen Crichton said. "He's confident in himself as well. Every time I ask him, I feel like I'm asking him too much. But he's confident. I did a lot of kicking yesterday with him as well so he's ready to go."


Second-rower Liam Martin also appears to have overcome injury and is growing in confidence that Hynes will line up against the Maroons. "He's probably getting sick of the rest of us checking in - he's ready to get out there with the team and rip in," he said. "He's feeling good, me and him warmed up together the other day and then we were in full training. He's feeling good, he'll be ready to fire."

with AAP