James Tedesco in stunning Origin admission about Tom Trbojevic
The Blues captain has spoken out about the Manly fullback's form.
Blues captain James Tedesco has backed Tom Trbojevic to come good for State of Origin as the Manly fullback struggles for form. Trbojevic would normally be a 'shoo-in' if fit for the Blues after his blistering 2021 performances in the NRL.
The Manly star, who played centre for the Blues, ran riot against Queensland and won the Wally Lewis medal for the best player in the 2021 series. He also took his club form to the next level and won the Dally M medal after a sublime season.
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However, a shoulder injury and hamstring worries have seen Trbojevic struggle in the build-up to the 2023 season. The 26-year-old has already battled hip and groin injuries after nine rounds of NRL action, after a summer stint in the USA working to overcome persistent hamstring injuries.
And his form has certainly come under question leading into State of Origin. Manly coach Anthony Seibold has also attempted to quell fears over Trbojevic's injuries and his form.
The Manly coach put the fullback's form into perspective and claimed how unrealistic it is for fans to expect him to replicate the 2021 season. The Manly No.1 played right centre for the 2021 series win for the Blues, but faces competition from Campbell Graham this year.
The Rabbitohs centre has been in devastating form and its tied second with 11 tries for the season. The wing could be an option for Trbojevic, however Josh Addo-Carr is nearing a return from a syndesmosis injury and is pushing to partner Brian To'o if fit.
There are even reports that Addo-Carr will play this weekend, which will boost his Blues selection chances. Regardless, Tedesco is adamant the Manly fullback would excel in the Origin arena if given the chance.
"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."
Tedesco is close with Trbojevic and while he has not spoken to him on a weekly basis about his fitness, he said the Manly star had remained positive throughout.
Blues five-eighth role up for grabs in State of Origin
Another fierce debate for the Blues is that of the five-eighth role. Nathan Cleary is the game's premier halfback and is a certainty to be picked, but the debate over who will wear No.6 dominates headlines with three games to go. Luai is the incumbent, but hasn't been in the best of form for the Panthers and the Blues lost last year's series with the halves coming under fire.
Meanwhile, Nicho Hynes was selected as 18th man for the Origin series opener in 2021 and the first two games of last year but has yet to make his Origin debut. He is the reigning Dally M winner and given his ability to play as a fullback as well as in the halves, Hynes could be selected as a bench utility if not a starter.
And coach Fittler has remained coy on who is in the lead to wear the jersey, but addressed Hynes' form last week. "There's still three weeks and he's got a couple of games to go. Not only has he still got to keep playing well, stay injury-free," Fittler said.
"There are couple of other players there doing a good job as well. But just watching him is enjoyable, watching what he does on the field and off the field. He's a great role model for the game."
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