Mitchell Moses is solidifying as NSW’s choice to replace the injured Nathan Cleary at halfback.
The Blues are set to make a number of changes to their squad for the must-win game at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on June 21.
Several candidates including Nicho Hynes, Adam Reynolds, Cody Walker and Moses have been mooted as halves options for NSW, possibly at the expense of five-eighth Yarom Luai.
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Moses played one game for NSW in the 2021 series when Cleary was injured.
But Hines’ creativity and Reynolds’ play and familiarity with Suncorp Stadium put them firmly in the conversation to replace Cleary.
Moses’ selection means Hines, who came off the bench in Game I, will be overlooked.
“There have been some very strong messages over the last week that Mitchell Moses is the No. 1 ranked player in NSW. 7 jumpers,” Fox League’s James Hooper told Triple M.
“That’s the way they went last time when Nathan Cleary was injured. If he doesn’t get injured when he plays for Parramatta against the Bulldogs on Monday, I daresay they’ll lean on him right now.”
“At the moment, they seem to like replacing Mitchell.
“They have several options. They believe Mitchell has an all-round game, and he obviously has a great long kicking game.
“They think he picked up his gloves in a game he played a few years ago.”
“For me personally, Hynes is the more obvious choice,” former NRL official James Graham said.
Hynes dealt a major blow to Origin’s chances
Nicho Hines didn’t help his cause, playing below his best against Queensland stars Cameron Munster and Harry Grant on Sunday when Cronulla clashed with the Melbourne Storm.
Hines missed the penalty, giving the Sharks an 8-6 lead.
Munster and co put on a clinic as the Storm trailed 34-6 at halftime to cruise to a 54-10 win.
No team has won an NRL premiership that season after conceding 50 points in a game.
Fox League spokesman Andrew Voss said: “Melbourne, they’re killing the sharks.”
“It’s the Melbourne massacre,” Bright Anasta said.
Nathan Hindmarsh on Fox League: “I think Nicho pushed a few passes early on and that shook his confidence a little bit.
“It looked to me like he had Origin selection in his mind. “What might or might not happen?” And it took his focus off his game.
“Nicho was selected in the Origin I side. He did not play well in this game. But he will definitely be selected for the second game.”
Blues bolters appear
NSW assistant Greg Alexander confirmed the Blues were considering a second game.
Alexander said Cronulla’s Cam McInnes is being considered for a place on the bench in Fox League NSW, while North Queensland’s Rhys Robson is also being discussed should the Blues opt for a focal point/utility off the bench.
Sweating blues in injuries
It’s not just Brad Fittler and NSW’s midfield selection.
The Blues have been sweating on the fitness of Latrell Mitchell (calf), Cameron Murray (groin) and Liam Martin (concussion).
Martin was NSW’s best player in Game I but is very much a doubt for Game II after suffering a concussion in Penrith’s win over the Roosters on Saturday.
After a collision with Roosters defender Jared Werea-Hargreaves, Martin has been ruled out for 11 days with grade one concussion symptoms, unless he is cleared by an independent doctor.
NSW’s forward pack could be set for a shake-up, with Penrith’s Spencer Leniou II stepping into the game.
Settled in Queensland to make a few changes
In contrast, the Queensland team was very stable, with only a few injuries forcing replacements in the Maroons’ forward line.
Tom Gilbert and Jay Arrow were ruled out, while Felice Kaufusi, Corey Horsburgh, Christian Welch and J’men Hopgood II entered the game.
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