Matt Burton's message to Michael Maguire as NSW coach faces big Latrell Mitchell decision

Burton and Mitchell have both put their hands up for a Blues spot.

New South Wales hopeful Matt Burton has declared to Michael Maguire that he is willing to play anywhere as the Blues coach mulls over his team selection for Game I. Burton starred on Thursday night in the perfect Origin audition, scoring two tries in Canterbury's 44-12 rout of St George Illawarra.

Burton is seen as a solid choice for the Blues at either centre or five-eighth, which happens to be the two positional areas where the Blues' depth is thinnest ahead of the series opener in Sydney on June 5. Nicho Hynes appears locked in for the halfback spot, given his superb start to the season with the ladder-leading Sharks.

Pictured L-R: Matt Burton, Michael Maguire, Latrell Mitchell
Matt Burton and Latrell Mitchell are both ready to go if Michael Maguire selects them for the Blues. Image: Getty

However, the five-eighth spot isn't so clear-cut. With injuries to game managers Nathan Cleary, Mitch Moses and Adam Reynolds, Burton is pitted against Penrith star Jarome Luai and Souths veteran Cody Walker for the No.6 jersey - however the latter may be ruled out with a calf issue.

Luai has been the first-choice five-eighth for three consecutive Origin series until he was axed for Game III last year in favour of Walker. And with his club halves partner Cleary on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, Maguire may choose to overlook him.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 12:  Cody Walker of the Blues reacts after a Maroons try during game three of the State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on July 12, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Souths veteran Cody Walker is locked in a battle for the Blues No.6 jersey with Matt Burton and Jarome Luai.

While centre is another possibility for Burton to get a chance in the Blues side. As a centre, Burton won the 2021 premiership with Penrith and earned selection in the Dally M Team of the Year. His chances are also boosted by injuries to Bradman Best, Kotoni Staggs, Tom Trbojevic and Campbell Graham. A third option is to select Burton as a bench utility in a bid to avoid the fallout caused by mid-game injuries.

And after putting in another stellar performance, where both his kicking and ball-playing game stood out, Burton says he is ready to play wherever Maguire needs him. "I've just been focussing on playing hard here and playing hard for the boys. But if (Origin) happens, I'll be stoked," Burton said.


"I've had a lot of experience (at centre) in the previous years. It's sort of second nature to me. I'm happy to play anywhere, really," he said. "Obviously that versatility helps. I'm hoping I can get that call. We'll see what happens."

The 24-year-old says he feels more ready for Origin than in the past and believes he can make a difference if he is selected. "Obviously having that experience in the past helps and I feel like I'm more mature now. I feel like I'm definitely ready," he said. "Just my effort areas around the ball, my supports and little things like that (are what have improved this year)."

Latrell Mitchell has made himself available for an Origin return should Maguire call on him. There has been much speculation surrounding the Rabbitohs fullback's availability.

But according to The Daily Telegraph, he has informed those close to him that he is ready and willing to play Origin. Despite declaring he is ready to go, it is still unlikely the Blues coach will pick Mitchell to partner Stephen Crichton at centre, with the likes of Burton, Jesse Ramien and Zac Lomax all in contention and arguably ahead of him in the pecking order.

Mitchell's form in 2024 has been patchy and he also spent several weeks on the sidelines after being suspended for elbowing Shaun Johnson. However, since returning from his ban, the Souths No.1 has the most try involvements in the past fortnight, showcasing why he is regarded as one of the greatest attacking threats in the NRL.