Give Dylan Edwards a chance on the wing for Blues: Luai
Incumbent NSW five-eighth Jarome Luai has declared Dylan Edwards is made for the State of Origin arena and backed the Penrith fullback for a possible call-up on the wing.
At least two of NSW's outside back spots appear vacant heading into the series opener at Adelaide Oval on May 31, with only Brian To'o and Latrell Mitchell seemingly assured of places at wing and centre, respectively.
Daniel Tupou, the Blues' other winger last series, will miss game one through injury and there are concerns about the club form of Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii and Tom Trbojevic - two men tipped as contenders earlier in the season.
Canterbury flyer Josh Addo-Carr was snubbed from last year's series before starring in the Kangaroos' victorious World Cup campaign but has missed a month of football this season with an ankle injury.
Addo-Carr has been named to make his return for the Bulldogs this week but is no guarantee to play himself back into form or shake the injury off completely in time.
As captain, James Tedesco holds a mortgage on the fullback spot for NSW and Australia and so has kept Edwards from playing representative football thus far.
But running low on wing options, Luai has suggested his two-time premiership-winning teammate should be given a chance there.
Edwards has started on the wing only three times at NRL level but was considered by Mal Meninga as a possible wing option for the Kangaroos' World Cup squad, before the coach settled on others.
NSW coach Brad Fittler has long been a fan of selecting in-form players out of position in the outside backs; fullbacks Mitchell and Trbojevic were the Blues' best two players in the 2021 series when they lined up in the centres.
"If Dyl's called upon for that (wing) role, whatever is required of him, he's going to do it at 100 per cent," Luai said.
"We've seen, the Panthers boys, what he can do every game but I think you guys (the media) seeing it now makes us really happy.
"He'd kill it."
Ranked equal-fourth in the Dally M standings, Edwards is in career-best form and most recently steered the Panthers back to the winner's circle with a strong performance against the Warriors at Magic Round.
He is also a proven big-game player, winning the Clive Churchill Medal in last year's grand final, and excels at carries out of yardage - a core competency for the modern fullback and winger.
"You look at the Origin arena, the blood, sweat and tears, you sort of get that feel that players do stuff they don't normally do," Luai said.
"But for me, Dyl does that every week. It's not out of the blue for him.
"He's made for that arena."
Famously averse to any kind of self-promotion, Edwards shrugged at the Origin speculation but said he would be keen to switch to the wing if it meant earning a maiden Blues jersey.
"If that was an option or that was what they needed me to do, I'd definitely put my hand up to do it," he said.
"There's some good outside backs there that play on the wing on a regular basis but if that was what needed to happen, I'd gladly put my hand up for it."