Daly Cherry-Evans' classy act for Nicho Hynes amid ugly Origin backlash for NSW halfback

The Queensland captain believes it would be a mistake for the Blues to drop Nicho Hynes.

Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans believes the Blues would be making a mistake by dropping halfback Nicho Hynes for State of Origin Game II. Hynes’ second Origin outing didn't go to plan and it was barely an improvement on his horror debut off the bench in Game I last year where his missed tackle resulted in a Queensland try.

NSW's Game I on Wednesday couldn't have gone much worse, with debutant centre Joseph Suaalii sent off just seven minutes into the Origin opener after his shoulder made direct contact with Reece Walsh's head. With a man advantage for the more than 70 minutes that followed, Queensland ran away with the game, scoring a comfortable 38-10 victory in Sydney.

The Queensland captain believes it would be a mistake for the Blues to drop Nicho Hynes.
Daly Cherry-Evans believes it would be a mistake for the Blues to drop Nicho Hynes. Image: Getty

While the Blues' game plan and structure all went out the window following Suaalii's dismissal, Blues coach Michael Maguire now faces the dilemma of whether he should stick with Hynes or recall Mitchell Moses, who made an incredible return from injury, starring in the Eels' 34-22 win over the Sharks in round 13.

In the Origin opener, Hynes' kicking game and game management came under the microscope as apart from a well-placed kick to Zac Lomax for one of the Blues' two tries, he looked lost and struggled to make any significant impact on the match. But Cherry-Evans - who was the man of the match in Origin I - says his opposite number put in a good performance considering the circumstances.

The Maroons skipper mentored Hynes during last year's end-of-season Kangaroos camp and urged Maguire to keep faith in his No.7. "Nicho was extremely competitive and he worked so hard out there," Cherry-Evans told The Sydney Morning Herald.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 05:  Nicho Hynes of the Blues reacts after a Maroons try during game one of the 2024 Men's State of Origin Series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on June 05, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Nicho Hynes failed to impress for the Blues in Game I.

"He took his opportunities with the ball, and he obviously got put in some really unfamiliar positions as well as a defender and that’s not easy. I’m a big fan of Nicho and I hope to see him back there doing his best because he’s earned that spot and these representative teams that he’s making.

"We’ve got a friendship and naturally that gets put on hold a little bit at this time of the year, but I do have a soft spot for him. I hope he goes well and doesn’t get scapegoated or anything. He’ll bounce back. He’s a resilient bugger, and he’s learned a lot over the last couple of years."

Hynes will be rested for the Sharks' round 14 match against the Broncos on Saturday night meaning he will only have just 80 minutes against the Dolphins next week to prove to Maguire why he should retain his Blues spot. Eels star Moses was initially touted as the likely Blues halfback for Game I earlier this season.

But a three-month stint on the sidelines with a foot injury ruled him out of contention for Game I. However, he starred in his NRL return and with games against Canterbury on Monday and then the Roosters, with two solid performances the No.7 Blues jersey could be his for Game II.


Moses was also impressive in his last start for NSW – a Game III win in 2023. And Blues legend Andrew Johns says getting the NSW spine right for Game II is essential. “It’s going to be a big decision for Madge,” Johns said on Channel Nine on Wednesday.

"[James] Tedesco absolutely tried his heart out tonight. If you’re going to go with combinations, obviously there’s going to be a lot of talk about the halves ... whether they pick Nicho again and Jarome [Luai] or whether they go with Mitchell Moses.

"Mitchell Moses and James Tedesco played a lot of footy together as young fellas, they debuted together at the Tigers. It probably depends on how Michael Maguire sees his team attacking and how they’re going to play in Melbourne."