Nicho Hynes at centre of worrying scenes for NSW amid surprise Nathan Cleary development

Michael Maguire had said his halfback would be ready to go 'on day one' - but that hasn't eventuated.

Nicho Hynes didn't take part in the Blues' first full training session on Wednesday ahead of the State of Origin opener, in a worrying sign that won't do anything to ease concerns about his calf. NSW coach Michael Maguire had said Hynes would "hit the ground running on day one" of the Blues' camp in the Blue Mountains, despite the fact he was carrying a calf niggle.

But that didn't eventuate on Wednesday as the halfback watched on while his teammates warmed up for their first proper run together. Hynes was wearing running shoes rather than footy boots and chatted to assistant coaches while others warmed up at the Blue Mountains Grammar School.

Nathan Cleary and Nicho Hynes in NSW State of Origin camp.
Nathan Cleary was a keen observer as Nicho Hynes sat out the first NSW training session before State of Origin I. Image: AAP

Media were asked to vacate Wednesday morning's session after 15 minutes, so it wasn't immediately clear whether Hynes took part or not. But the fact he didn't warm up was a worrying sign - unless Maguire is playing mind games with Queensland.

Back-rower Liam Martin also didn't take part in the full session and was seen doing stretches away from the main group. "He (Hynes) did a little bit, a lot of watching," Blues back-rower Angus Crichton said.

"But we obviously back the physio staff with their plan with him, and if he's right he'll play. [Luke Keary] is a pro, he's been there in big games and grand finals, and I think he's really ready for it if the call comes for him (to replace Hynes). "I think Nicho will be sweet, but if he's not I think Keary is a pretty handy replacement."

Nicho Hynes and Matt King in NSW State of Origin camp.
Nicho Hynes chats to Matt King as NSW players warm-up for their first training session.

Hynes has previously insisted he'll be right to play in next Wednesday's series opener in Sydney. Scans showed no further damage to his calf after he failed to finish Cronulla's loss to the Panthers last Saturday.

"It's great news. It was a bit of a worry there once it cooled down (in the) middle of the game on the weekend," Hynes said on Monday. "The scans have shown us some good signs. I'll be doing what I can next couple of days to make sure I get on the field and prepare the best I can ... to make sure I can do a job for this team."

Maguire insisted earlier this week: "He's ready to go. I'm really super-confident with how Nicho's been. Listening to the conversations of what he's had to face over his career and what he's learnt, I'm looking forward to how he comes into camp because he's a leader."

Nathan Cleary during a NSW training session.
Nathan Cleary watched on as the Blues were put through their paces.

Interestingly, Nathan Cleary was a keen observer as the Blues were put through their paces on Wednesday. The superstar halfback would have walked into Maguire's team but has been struck down by a hamstring injury that will rule him out for the entire Origin series.

Jarome Luai, who is Cleary's halves partner at Penrith, won a recall as a result after being axed for Game III last year. "I have earned my spot here," Luai said. "I know I have to play good to keep that spot ... I'm ready to rock and bring that (confidence) into camp, and to game day as well."


On Tuesday, Queensland legend Cameron Smith predicted the Maroons would target Hynes in Game I due to the injury cloud. "If Nicho Hynes plays, I’d be testing him out if I’m playing," Smith said on SEN radio.

"He’s come in under an injury cloud, he didn’t get through 80 minutes on the weekend. I know there’s a lot of talk about there’s nothing wrong but he couldn’t finish a game three days ago so there’s got to be something going on, so I’d be testing him out.

"It’s his first game too wearing No.7, so there’s no doubt I’d be going after him. As good as he’s playing at club level, and there’s no doubt he’s been playing extremely well, he’s untried at this level. He’s come off the bench and played out of position for what six minutes but this is the first time where he’s been given the reins to the New South Wales football side and said ‘Here you go, go and run it’.

"So there’s no doubt I’d be trying to put him under a fair bit of pressure defensively, because if you do that you increase his work rate and it takes away from his attack. We all know he’s a wonderful player, he’s a fantastic player, it’s going to take a lot to minimise what he does in the game but that’s what you have to do to the great players. You can never take them out of the game but you’ve got to try and find ways to minimise the ways they can impact the game against you.”