Andrew Johns savaged by NRL fans over James Tedesco and Cody Walker call for Origin

The NSW legend has named the spine he would pick if selecting the Blues team for State of Origin.

Andrew Johns has copped a pasting from NRL fans after saying he'd pick James Tedesco and Cody Walker in his spine if he was selecting the NSW State of Origin team. The Blues have lost back-to-back series to Billy Slater and Queensland, with coach Brad Fittler falling on his sword as a result.

New coach Michael Maguire has a number of tricky selection calls to make - particularly at fullback, five-eighth and hooker. Tedesco, Walker and Damien Cook are the incumbents in those positions, where they played for NSW in Game III of last year's series. But many have suggested the time has come for an overhaul of the team, with Tedesco, Walker and Cook among a number of veterans who many believe shouldn't be picked this year.

Cody Walker, Andrew Johns and James Tedesco.
Andrew Johns says he would pick Cody Walker and James Tedesco for NSW. Image: Getty

Walker was actually man of the match in Game III last year, which NSW won 24-10 (albeit in a dead rubber). But the five-eighth's form for Souths has been abysmal so far in 2024, with the Rabbitohs winning just one of their first six games.

Cody Walker, pictured here with Brad Fittler after Game III of State of Origin in 2023.
Cody Walker was man of the match in Game III of State of Origin in 2023.


As for Tedesco, the incumbent NSW and Australia fullback had an underwhelming year in 2023, but played well in Game III of the Origin series. He made a blinding start to the 2024 season but has been rather sub-par in recent weeks.

Calls are growing for Tedesco to be relieved of his Origin duties, with many of the belief that Panthers star Dylan Edwards deserves a shot in the No.1 jersey. Maguire also has Tom Trbojevic and Ryan Papenhuyzen to choose from, while Latrell Mitchell remains an option if he can find form at club level.

As for five-eighth, Nicho Hynes and Mitchell Moses are seemingly leading the race, and hardly anyone has tipped Walker to retain his spot. We say hardly anyone because Johns said he would pick both Walker and Tedesco this week.

NRL fans rip Andrew Johns over James Tedesco and Cody Walker call

Speaking on the 'Immortal Behaviour' podcast, the NSW legend was asked who he would have in his spine this series. He replied by saying he would pick Tedesco (fullback), Walker (five-eighth), Nathan Cleary (halfback) and Reece Robson (hooker).

Predictably, the comments didn't go down well amongst NRL fans. Daily Telegraph columnist 'The Oracle' wrote on social media: "Cody Walker is in career worst form for Souths, but Andrew Johns would still pick him at 6 for NSW. Just wow."

James Tedesco, Cameron Murray, Damien Cook, Keaon Koloamatangi and Cody Walker.
James Tedesco, Cameron Murray, Damien Cook, Keaon Koloamatangi and Cody Walker before State of Origin III in 2023.

Another person wrote: "And that’s why Queensland have dominated Origin for the last 15yrs plus." A third commented: "Keep that bloke WELL away from the selection committee", while another added: "Oh Joey Joey have this so wrong. I’d have (Andrew's brother) Mathew at 6 before I had Cody."

However others pointed out how well Walker played in Game III last year and that Queensland would show loyalty for past performances. "NSW fans just dont get it, he was man of the match game three, his entire team isn't going well, put him in blue and he will deliver like he did in game 3," one person wrote. "People have short memories and thats why QLD keep winning."

As for Robson, the Cowboys hooker came off the bench in the second and third games last year - and showed he belongs at that level. But many have been calling for Api Koroisau to win the No.9 jersey after a strong start to the year with the Tigers.