Api Koroisau speaks out about State of Origin snub as he makes big Reece Robson call

Koroisau says he has no ill feelings towards coach Michael Maguire for overlooking him for the Blues.

Wests Tigers hooker Api Koroisau says he has no ill feelings towards Blues coach Michael Maguire for overlooking him for the State of Origin opener, stating the man that beat him to the No.9 jersey, Reece Robson, is "a great hooker". Koroisau's omission from the NSW side came as a shock, with many believing that Maguire would have gone with the crafty hooker for his attacking flair.

The Tigers captain missed the final two games of the 2023 Origin series with a broken jaw but had been widely tipped to reclaim the No.9 jersey for Maguire's first game in charge. However, North Queensland No.9 Robson was instead selected as the only out-and-out hooker.

Pictured left Api Koroisau and right Reece Robson
Api Koroisau says he holds no grudge towards coach Michael Maguire for pcking Reece Robson over him for Game I. Image: Getty

The decision came as a surprise to many, with Koroisau largely considered the best hooker in the NRL. His Tigers teammate Alex Twal said he couldn't believe it when he read the team list. "I was surprised (he missed out)," Twal admitted. "He's the best hooker in the game."

Robson was parachuted into the NSW squad for Game II and III last year after Koroisau was ruled out but he shared the hooker job with Damien Cook. However, in Game I this year he has been named as the only No.9 and with no utility on the bench he will be expected to play the full 80 minutes.

While Koroisau admitted he was disappointed to not be able to represent his state, he heaped praise on Robson and pledged to be available for selection if Maguire needed to call on him. "You respect his decision," Koroisau said on Tuesday as he addressed his Blues snub for the first time.


"He picked a great team ... a really hard-working team. I'm just excited to watch the boys get out there tomorrow night. I got to play in there last year and the year before. I'm just grateful that I got the opportunity.

"My hand will always be up in case he ever needed me. I'm just excited for the opportunities I did get. I'm here if he needs me."

While Robson may not possess the same attacking repertoire as Koroisau, he is a reliable No.9 who is defensively sound and regularly plays 80 minutes. He also was impressive in his first two games for the Blues and Koroisau says he is excited to watch him take it to the Maroons.

"He's an incredible athlete, a great rugby league player and especially a great hooker," Koroisau said. "Defensively he's really strong, he's really fit, too. I'm expecting him to go out there and steal a few metres out there."

Heading into Game I Robson says he feels that he has the chance to prove what he can do on the game's biggest stage, with no hooker named on the bench to eat into his minutes.

"Obviously Api's a great player and does some great things," Robson told AAP. "But being able to get that chance to play nine, it definitely gives me the chance to take that game with two hands and really make my mark on the game.

"That's what I'm looking forward to the most, being out there for the opportunity so when they do arise I'll be there to take them... Whatever he (Maguire) needs of me and whatever the state needs of me, I'll be there to make sure I do my job."

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 21: Reece Robson of New South Wales passes the ball during game two of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on June 21, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Reece Robson is expected to play 80 minutes for the Blues in Game I.
  1. James Tedesco

  2. Brian To'o

  3. Stephen Crichton

  4. Joseph Suaalii

  5. Zac Lomax

  6. Jarome Luai

  7. Nicho Hynes

  8. Jake Trbojevic (c)

  9. Reece Robson

  10. Payne Haas

  11. Liam Martin

  12. Angus Crichton

  13. Cameron McInnes

  14. Isaah Yeo

  15. Haumole Olakau'atu

  16. Spencer Leniu

  17. Hudson Young

18th man: Matt Burton

with AAP