Nicho Hynes' brutal moment as NRL star fails to fire in last audition for State of Origin spot

The halfback had an underwhelming night as Cronulla went down to the Dolphins.

Nicho Hynes looks increasingly unlikely to retain his NSW Blues jumper for State of Origin II, after the halfback produced an underwhelming display in Cronulla's loss to the Dolphins on Thursday night. Hynes needed a big game to have any hope of retaining his place in Michael Maguire's side, with Mitchell Moses banging down the door to be selected.

Hynes had a try assist and some nice touches on Thursday night, but didn't do enough to demand selection for Origin II in Melbourne. He failed to fire with ball in hand in Game I, and produced some horror defensive efforts that led to Queensland tries.

Nicho Hynes during the Sharks' loss to the Dolphins.
Nicho Hynes missed a game-deciding conversion attempt and had some questionable defensive moments as the Sharks lost to the Dolphins. Image: Channel 9/Getty

On Thursday night his defence was also questionable, and he cruelly missed a late sideline conversion that would have sent the game to golden point extra-time. Hynes had been kicking at 93 per cent in 2024, and Thursday's miss after the siren was just his third of the entire season.

Considering how well he's been kicking, it was another example of the halfback failing to produce in a high-pressure moment. If Moses has a big game for the Eels against the Roosters on Saturday night, Maguire will have no second thoughts about picking him and dumping Hynes.

"It'll get exacerbated, because it's him, of course. Everyone will talk about that," Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon said about Hynes' missed kick in their 30-28 loss. "(The miss) will be tough on him. He's been working really hard with Daryl Halligan (on his kicking) and his numbers have been terrific all year.

"But I think it's unfair to put it on a goal kick when we give up 22 points in the first half. The answer is probably lying in our defence and lying in the first half, I reckon."

Nicholas Hynes, pictured here after Cronulla's loss to the Dolphins.
Nicholas Hynes looks on after Cronulla's loss to the Dolphins. Image: AAP

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Maguire was reportedly keen to pick Moses for Game I, but the Eels halfback didn't return from a foot injury in time. Moses was sensational in Game III last year, and some have tipped Maguire to bring him in alongside Cody Walker - who was man of the match in that same game in 2023.

"Don’t be surprised if Madge injects Cody Walker into the halves," Matty Johns said on Thursday. "The Blues coach has worked with Cody and both have a great understanding of each other, tactically. Reports were that only a calf injury stopped Madge from selecting Walker for game one. A Cody/Latrell (Mitchell) combination has plenty of appeal."

Mitchell Moses and Cody Walker.
Mitchell Moses and Cody Walker after NSW's win in State of Origin III last year.

Andrew Johns highlighted that Hynes' kicking game was poor in Game I. "We need Moses' kicking game," the NSW legend said. "Probably the best kicking game in the competition - very close to. He's got a really long kicking game which means he can rescue sets coming out of trouble with that long kick. Yep, Moses in for me, definitely.

"If Moses is picked at 7, I would go with Cody at five-eighth. Game III last year they combined really well and Cody opens up the left side attack. Cody can get that sorted. I know he's not going great at clubland ... but especially with Latrell, if Latrell's on the left..."

Fans on social media were also saying the same thing about Hynes and his chances of retaining his NSW jersey. As well as the missed conversion, he also failed to get his side over the line in an upset loss to Wayne Bennett's men at home.

He squandered Cronulla's only chance in the red zone as the Dolphins ran out to their early 22-0 lead, passing to Sifa Talakai on the fifth tackle and watching the second-rower knocked on. Two of the Dolphins' four early tries came down Hynes' right edge, although he wasn't the only defender made to look silly.

with AAP