Mitchell Moses called out over 'worrying' scenes as Matt Burton stakes State of Origin claim

Moses was called out over one major detail after his side's narrow defeat.

Mitchell Moses and Matt Burton have both put forward compelling cases to be included in Michael Maguire's Blues side for State of Origin Game II on June 26. While Burton and his Bulldogs side got the chocolates in Monday's absorbing 22-18 win over the Eels in the NRL, Moses showed flashes of brilliance for the losing side as he looks to earn back the No.7 jersey for the Blues.

It's widely thought that Moses would have been picked for the Blues in Game I if he had returned from a broken foot earlier for the Eels, having missed 10 weeks after round three. Parramatta have looked like a completely different side since Moses and Clint Gutherson returned from injury and they came within a whisker of making it back-to-back victories after leading 18-10 and going a man up in the second half against the Bulldogs.

Mitch Moses and Matt Burton both put their hands up for State of Origin selection during Monday's NRL thriller between the Eels and Bulldogs. Pic: Getty
Mitch Moses and Matt Burton both put their hands up for State of Origin selection during Monday's NRL thriller between the Eels and Bulldogs. Pic: Getty

But the Eels couldn't capitalise on the sin-binning of Kurt Mann for a crusher tackle that saw him slapped with a two-game suspension. The Dogs' resolute defence earned them plenty of admirers but there was a sense that Moses should have stood up for his side and "iced" the game for Parramatta under the circumstances. Moses looked dangerous in attack - particularly when he ran the footy - and his kicking game was excellent.

NRL 360 host Braith Anasta and veteran league journalist Phil Rothfield both said Moses should come into Maguire's Blues side - for either Nacho Hynes or Jarome Luai. But they said on Monday night's show that his inability to stand up in the second half and get the Eels home against the Dogs was worrying for the NSW hopeful.

“I want to see him more at the back-end when the game is on the line, that’s what happens in Origin right?” Anasta said. “That’s when the moment matters the most... we were talking before we came on, there was a set there where he didn’t touch the ball. He’s still in my side, but that’s worry.”


Rothfield added: “I was disappointed in his game management at the back-end, but I had him in my side. I now want to see him against the Roosters next weekend and just make sure he has performed before I lock him in.” While there were still question marks around Moses after his display on Sunday, the consensus was that Burton had to be picked for the Blues for Game II - whether that be in the starting 13 or as the bench utility for NSW.

Burton ran the ball hard, defended well and linked well with his Dogs teammates in attack. But it was his kicking game that really shone on Sunday and had plenty of observers clamouring for his inclusion in the Blues side. Burton's long kicking game helped the Dogs get out of trouble on numerous occasions and his massive spiral bombs were a nightmare for the Eels to defend all game.

Seen here, Matt Burton playing for the Bulldogs in the NRL.
Matt Burton was excellent in the Bulldogs' win over the Eels in the NRL. Pic: Getty

“He’s got to be there, either six or three. His kicking game tonight, it can change the momentum,” Queensland great Gordon Tallis said on NRL 360. “We saw NSW struggled at times to hit the spot, but a couple of those spiral bombs... the MCG, the wind might swirl around. He needs to be in the side.”

Rothfield and Read both agreed that Burton should be in the NSW 17 but said the bench utility spot would be the best option. Maroons coach Billy Slater was vindicated for picking a back in Selwyn Cobbo in his 17 when Reece Walsh was ruled out from Joseph Suaalii's high shot and there is a sense Maguire should follow suit when it comes to Burton.

“I think he should play 14 in that he can play in the halves, he can play centres, he can plat at lock forward if you really need him to,” Rothfield said. “It gives us a Billy Slater bench, a little bit of manoeuvrability there, he can’t get picked in the centres because I think Latrell has got to be there.” Read added: “He’s your 14, he’s your utility on the bench, he’s perfect for the role”.