James Tedesco axing stuns NRL world as Latrell Mitchell and Api Koroisau cop Origin snubs

Michael Maguire's NSW team for the State of Origin opener has proven very divisive.

Fans had been calling for Dylan Edwards to replace James Tedesco as NSW State of Origin fullback for months, but Michael Maguire's decision to follow through and axe the Blues captain on Sunday night still came as a huge shock. Maguire has begun his tenure as NSW coach by making a number of huge calls in his team for State of Origin I, making 11 changes from Game III last year and handing six players their debuts.

The biggest bombshell was the axing of incumbent NSW and Kangaroos captain Tedesco, with Edwards' form over the last few years too hard to ignore. There's no surprise that Brian To'o and Stephen Crichton fill one of the centre-wing slots, but the inclusion of Zac Lomax and Joseph Suaalii on the other side was unexpected.

Dylan Edwards, Latrell Mitchell and Api Koroisau.
Dylan Edwards, Latrell Mitchell and Api Koroisau have all missed out on selection for the NSW team for State of Origin I. Image: Getty

Nicho Hynes has been named at halfback despite his calf injury, while Jarome Luai has won a recall at five-eighth after he was axed last year. Payne Haas and Jake Trbojevic are the front-rowers, with Trbojevic a surprise captaincy choice due to Isaah Yeo being on the bench.

Dylan Edwards in action for the Penrith Panthers.
Dylan Edwards has ousted James Tedesco as NSW fullback.


Many would have expected Yeo to be the new skipper with Tedesco axed, but Maguire has gone with Cameron McInnes at lock and Yeo on the bench. Liam Martin and Angus Crichton are the second-rowers, while Reece Robson is the hooker rather than Api Koroisau.

Haumole Olakau'atu, Spencer Leniu and Hudson Young make up the bench, while Matt Burton, Luke Keary and Mitch Barnett are in the wider squad. Burton was named as 18th man on Sunday night, but many are expecting him to be in the 17 on gameday due to the fact Maguire hasn't named a utility of outside back on the bench. Angus Crichton would seemingly be the only player who could play in the outside backs if there was an injury during the game, but Burton can fill in anywhere in the back-line.

While some have praised Maguire for his courageous call to axe Tedesco in favour of Edwards, many have questioned the move in light of the leadership void it now creates for the Blues. With experienced players Nathan Cleary, Cameron Murray and Tom Trbojevic all out injured, many had been expecting Maguire to stick with Tedesco rather than blood the green Edwards.

Tedesco had an underwhelming year in 2023 (both for the Roosters and NSW), but has returned to his best in 2024. The fact he has been axed means the Blues will have four debutants in the starting side (Edwards, Suaalii, Lomax and McInnes) and not much experience to call on.

"I've got the utmost respect for Teddy - I'll hold what he said for me, but I'll understand why he'll go down as one of the greats of the game," Maguire said on Monday morning. "It was a big decision and a great decision, Dylan has been playing at the highest level."

The fact that Koroisau was overlooked also went down like a lead balloon on social media, while many said they would have had Mitchell in the team for his X-factor and experience. Brad Fittler and Paul Gallen were among the many NSW greats who had Mitchell in their teams, although it appears as though his indecision about whether he actually wanted to play Origin this year might have cost him.

Maguire seems to have chosen a squad with defence in mind, picking players who can produce repeat efforts and put their bodies on the line. Koroisau is more creative than Robson with ball in hand, but Robson is the better defender.

  1. Dylan Edwards

  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

Reserves: 18. Matt Burton 19. Luke Keary 20. Mitchell Barnett