Brad Fittler has revealed the job Apisai Koroisau was doing at dummy half was the reason behind leaving Nicho Hynes on the bench for 70 minutes in the opening game of the 2023 State of Origin series, which New South Wales lost 26 points to 18 against Queensland.

The selection of Hynes on the bench was routinely questioned in the lead-up to the game.

After a strong push for him to take the number six jersey in a new halves combination for the Blues alongside Nathan Cleary, coach Fittler ultimately wound up with the same halves combination he has employed in recent years.

That saw Jarome Luai, coming off a strong final month before selection for the Penrith Panthers, in the halves alongside Cleary.

Hynes, who plays halfback for the Sharks, was seen as the ideal candidate to displace Luai in the number six jumper, with the plan then being to use Hynes at dummy half off the bench.

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But that ultimately didn't happen, with a clearly fatigued Koroisau playing the entire 80 minutes while Harry Grant, who came off the bench over 20 minutes into the contest, ran roughshod throughout the second half.

The difference between the two sides in ruck speed was stark at times, and despite the solid job Koroisau did, he was in many ways powerless to stop the onslaught brought on by Queensland or reverse the difficulty New South Wales clearly had in attack as they failed time and time again to capitalise on strong field position and the bulk of possession throughout the loss.

Speaking after the contest, Fittler said he never saw the need to replace Koroisau and instead had to use Hynes in the centres when Tom Trbojevic was ruled out with a concussion.

"There was always the option at hooker, but I thought Api was doing a good job there. Having someone versatile there, you have to wait for an outside back to get injured. It happened to be that Tom got a Category 1 so he moved into right centre," Fittler said on the use of Hynes in his post-game press conference.

Ultimately, Hynes had very little impact in the game's final ten minutes and misses a one-on-one tackle on Cameron Munster defending out of position, leading to Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow's try that put the Maroons ahead.

Hynes is not guaranteed to remain in the squad for Game 2, which will be played in Brisbane on June 21.

The star Sharks' half clearly had little in the way of a plan from Fittler, who has also failed to use backline utilities properly in previous Origin campaigns.


  1. Ignoring Grant’s mode of locomotion, I was bewildered by the use Slater made of him.

    After 23 minutes, Prop Tino was rotated off and hooker Grant came on. Flegler and Arrow were left on the bench. Either would have made a better “like for like” change.
    I don’t know where Grant played (I was listening on the radio, not watching the TV) but for the rest of the first half one of Hunt or Grant played at 9 and one played as a middle forward.

    I think playing either of them out of position in the middle, out of choice, was risky, but Billy must have had faith in them, and it seems it was not misplaced.

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