Anthony Seibold speaks out amid Tom Trbojevic's harsh Origin reality

The Sea Eagles coach has backed the injury-hit Tom Trbojevic as the NSW Blues get ready to announce their State of Origin team.

Anthony Seibold and Tom Trbojevic.
Anthony Seibold has backed Tom Trbojevic's form, despite many fearing he hasn't shown enough yet to be picked for the NSW Blues in Origin I. Pictures: Getty Images

Manly coach Anthjony Seibold has gone in to bat for embattled fullback Tom Trbojevic, as speculation grows in the NRL that the 26-year-old's form this season will not be enough to guarantee him a spot in the NSW State of Origin team. The Sea Eagles were beaten 20-14 by Cronulla on Sunday, with Trbojevic giving up a crucial try after he was clean beaten for pace by Sharks backrower Briton Nikora.

It was a rare occasion in which 'Turbo' found himself beaten for pace, prompting NRL commentator Cooper Cronk to declare him 'nowhere near 100 per cent' following a minor groin injury back in April. The Blues will name their side for Origin I on May 31, with speculation that Trbojevic is no certainty to appear in coach Brad Fittler's side.

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Seibold came to Trbojevic's defence on Sunday night, saying the devastating kicking game of reigning Dally M winner Nicho Hynes had but not only Trbojevic but the entire side in an unenviable position on several occasions. He said the difference had been Trbojevic's 'intent' - a key sign that he isn't far from his full potential.

“It’s hard for him when Nicho Hynes kicked us into a corner - he was the Dally M Medallist last year and is really effective with his kicking game so he suffocated us there,” Seibold said. “But the thing I really liked about Tom’s game, although he didn’t get in the clear as such, just the intent that he carried the footy with, like he was carrying the footy on tackle three and lots of times on tackle five, really charging into the opposition.

“There was plenty of intent there and that’s a good thing, when Tommy has that intent we know he’s not far away from playing his best footy. We were not giving him and (Daly Cherry-Evans) opportunities down the right end of the field in the first half."

Manly loss raises further questions about Tom Trbojevic in Origin

The loss was Manly's third in a row, leaving them mired at 12th on the ladder with four wins, five losses and a draw. Hynes was critical to limiting Trbojevic's involvement as Cronulla moved into the top four with an important comeback win following last week's Magic Round humbling from the Dolphins.

It came after Blues teammate James Tedesco came out in support of Trbojevic's origin bona fides last week, with the Roosters veteran saying there was no doubt he would be a positive influence on the side. Trbojevic has battled hip and groin injuries already this season, after a summer stint in the USA working to overcome persistent hamstring injuries.

Tom Trbojevic applauds fans of the NSW Blues after a State of Origin match in 2021.
Tom Trbojevic starred when he last played State of Origin in 2021, having missed the 2022 series due to injury. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Trbojevic missed last year's series with his season-ending shoulder injury, but was the Blues' best in 2021 and claimed the Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series. The Manly No.1 played right centre in that year for the Blues, but faces competition from Campbell Graham this year.

The wing could be an option, however Josh Addo-Carr is nearing a return from a syndesmosis injury and is pushing to partner Brian To'o if fit. Regardless, NSW captain Tedesco said he fully believed that Trbojevic would have no issue rising back to the level of Origin and backed the Sea Eagles star to be picked.

"I think everyone's seen how well he plays at Origin level no matter if he's coming off injuries or not playing many games," Tedesco said. "He still comes in and kills it. There'd be no doubts over Tommy in the Origin arena."

With AAP

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