Andrew Johns makes startling call as Mitchell Moses switch floated for State of Origin I

NRL fans and pundits are questioning whether it's too late for the Blues to make a late change.

NSW legend Andrew Johns reckons Michael Maguire will be "very tempted' to bring Mitchell Moses straight into the Blues team for State of Origin I after his stand-out display on Thursday night. Moses put on a masterclass in his NRL return for Parramatta after 10 weeks out, setting up two tries and producing a brilliant kicking game to help the Eels beat the ladder-leading Sharks 34-22.

NSW coach Maguire was reportedly keen to pick Moses for the Origin opener even though he'd been out for over two months with a fractured foot, but ultimately Moses couldn't prove his fitness in time before the team was picked last weekend. Maguire instead went with Hynes at halfback, and the Sharks star certainly deserves his selection after a brilliant start to the year.

Mitchell Moses and Nicho Hynes.
Mitchell Moses' performance in his NRL return only increased the pressure on Nicho Hynes. Image: Getty/Channel 9/AAP

But Moses' performance on Thursday night will give NSW selectors plenty to ponder - especially if Hynes fails to fire and the Blues lose Game I. "He's the complete package, Mitchell, his kicking game is extremely important to us," interim Eels coach Trent Barrett said after the game.

"He's probably one of the best kickers, if not the best kicker in the competition. The confidence they (Moses and Clint Gutherson) give us ... that's what they bring, and Gutho has come back early from injury, so it's been a huge effort for him."


Speaking before Thursday night's game, legendary former NSW halfback Johns was asked about this exact scenario if Moses had a blinder in his return. The Blues champion floated the possibility that Maguire could 'parachute' Moses straight into his team at the expense of either Hynes or five-eighth Jarome Luai.

"He's got an incredible kicking game and he's got the experience," Johns said on the 'Immortal Behaviour' podcast. "You'd be tempted to parachute him in … it's a six-day recovery from tonight until Wednesday. Geez it will be interesting, it will be interesting tonight.

"I think Parramatta will win and I reckon Moses will have a big game. If he really shoots the lights out … far out, there's some questions there. You'd be very tempted."

Andrew Johns.
Andrew Johns looks on prior to an NRL game.

Johns was talking more about what Maguire would do if Hynes succumbed to his troublesome calf niggle, but the NSW coach still has a huge dilemma nevertheless. Speaking after the game, Moses said he hadn't even started kicking the ball again until this week.

“I tried two weeks earlier but it just didn’t pull up right,” he admitted. “I couldn’t go out on the field and let the boys down. I tried to come back early enough, I gave it every chance and tried my best but it didn’t come up right.”

Mitchell Moses.
Mitchell Moses looks on after Parramatta's win over Cronulla.

Moses' performance on Thursday night had pundits and fans questioning whether it's too late for him to be brought into the NSW team for Origin I on Wednesday night. Hynes is still under an injury cloud with a dodgy calf, but trained strongly on Thursday in NSW camp.

And with Luke Keary and Matt Burton already in camp as back-up, it's doubtful that Maguire would turn to Moses if Hynes happened to be ruled out. But plenty were left wondering what the Blues team would look like if Moses had been able to return just one week earlier.

Speaking in commentary for Channel 9, former Cronulla and NSW captain Paul Gallen was gobsmacked by Moses' display after such a long layoff. “I go back to the very first kick of the game from Mitchell Moses - the way it came off the boot, the sound it made, how far it went,” Gallen remarked. "I said ‘he’s on tonight’. I can’t believe the impact he’s had on this game.

"I did radio on the way out here and they asked me about him and I said Parramatta have been beaten through the middle, their forwards have been getting trounced week in, week out. Teams have been running through them.

"Mitchell Moses isn’t there to tackle or take hit ups. Well, didn’t he inspire them? I can’t believe the impact he’s had. I said earlier in the year I don’t know I would pay $1 million for Mitchell Moses but at this club he’s worth every cent. The confidence he gave everyone tonight was unbelievable. I honestly can’t believe the impact particularly on the forwards, the confidence and the kicking game was brilliant.”