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Matty Johns theorises how Maguire will utilise NSW’s bench rotation


Former NSW Blues half Matty Johns has backed new coach Michael Maguire to effectively use his selection of bench players, despite criticism being thrown at ‘Madge’ for not picking an a replacement back.

Maguire made plenty of headlines with his conterversial Game I selections, including the stunning dropping of captain James Tedesco in favour of Dylan Edwards.

The former Premiership winning coach has also raised eyebrows by dropping star lock Isaah Yeo to the bench in favour of Cam McInnes and picking two backrowers in Hudson Young and Hamole Olakau’atu.

With NSW suffering an injury in the backline in essentially every game of the 2023 series, Maguire’s all forward rotation has some worried but Johns predicted how he sees things playing out in Game I.

“I reckon after about 25, 30 minutes, they’ll shift things around,” Johns told SEN 1170 The Run Home.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they move people around, even if they used Hudson a little bit through the midele, State of Origin, it’s so fast that size, outside of freaks like Payne Haas, size becomes a liability.

“So, those smaller sort of fast feet forwards, wouldn’t surprise me if Hudson has a stint in the middle.”

“Olakau’atu is just a powerhouse, he’ll be on that right edge.

“I don’t think there’ll be a lot of secrets with how that bench is used.”

“In my opinion, I think it’ll be problematic having Jake and Isaah Yeo on there together.

“Put it this way, when Isaah comes on they’re really going to have to define Jake’s role because both of them like that similar play, short or around the back to the sweep.”

Johns also theorised that the shock non selection of Maroons star David Fifita may have something to do with Maguire’s ability to pick out defensive liabilities.

“One thing about Madge is that he’s just so thorough, I reckon when you look at the non selection of David Fifita, from Billy’s (Slater) perspective that’s got a fair bit to do with Madge.

“Madge is very, very good at working out a player if he’s got defensive shortcomings and exposing him, Dave second to none as far as attacking threats, but he’s got a few shortcomings as far as defensive energy and his willingness to jump in there.

“I reckon that’s the reason why he’ll be sitting at home watching on the tele.”

The 2024 Origin series kicks off at Accor Stadium in Sydney as the Blues host the Maroons on Wednesday, June 5th.

State of Origin Rugby League

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