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NSW Origin II team: Hynes pays price for dip in form, Moses, Cook recalled, Pangai punted, rising stars to debut

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13th June, 2023
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Nicho Hynes has paid the price for an underwhelming Origin debut and a couple of rare ineffective games for Cronulla by being dumped by NSW for next Wednesday’s must-win match at Suncorp Stadium.

The Dally M Medal winner not only lost out to Parramatta’s Mitchell Moses for the halfback jersey but has been dropped from the squad altogether after he was the bench utility in game one.

Moses forced his way into the team with a five-star performance in Parramatta’s win over Canterbury on Monday while Hynes, who had been considered the frontrunner for the No.7 jersey when Nathan Cleary tore his hamstring, was well below his best when Cronulla were thumped by Melbourne on Sunday.

Hynes made a crucial missed tackle when he came on in the unfamiliar position of right centre in game one which led to a crucial Queensland try in their 26-18 win and produced some costly errors for the Sharks when they were blown away by the Storm on the back of a below-par display the previous week in Cronulla’s home loss to Brisbane.

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Cowboys hooker Reece Robson and Wests Tigers prop Stefano Utoikamanu have won their first NSW jersey while injured South Sydney duo Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray have passed fitness tests and Panthers forward Liam Martin has been named despite suffering a concussion on the weekend.

Rabbitohs veteran Damien Cook is also back in the team after incumbent hooker Api Koroisau suffered a broken jaw playing for Wests Tigers on Thursday. Robson will be his back-up on the bench.

As expected, Tevita Pangai jnr has been punted after a poor Origin debut in the loss in Adelaide with Junior Paulo elevated to the starting side and Utoikamanu coming onto the interchange.


Raiders forward Hudson Young avoided the chop despite a couple of dud plays on debut while uncapped Rabbitohs forward Keaon Koloamatangi has been included on the extended bench.

Moses was thrilled to get another chance at Origin level.

The 28-year-old Eels playmaker made his Origin debut in 2021 when Cleary was injured and suffered a fracture in his back early in that game but played on as the Maroons avoided a series sweep with a 20-18 upset.

“I was just biting down on my mouthguard for 70 minutes and tried my best because I didn’t want to let anyone down,” Moses told reporters after the 34-12 triumph over the Dogs. “It was unfortunate that we didn’t get the win that night, but we’d wrapped up the series in the first two games.

“It was a good opportunity and a great experience, but it was tough.”

Damien Cook passes the ball

Damien Cook. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

He will combine with Penrith pivot Jarome Luai as the Blues try to force a series decider in Sydney by beating the Maroons at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday.


Mitchell missed the series opener due to a calf injury but has been cleared by Rabbitohs medical staff to be back to full training by the end of the week, along with Murray, who has been bothered by a groin complaint.

Martin copped a heavy knock in Penrith’s win over the Roosters on Saturday night but will be allowed to play after the 11-day turnaround as long as he remains on light training duties as per the concussion protocols.

Robson and Utoikamanu, who have been members of the Blues’ extended squad over the past 12 months, will get a baptism of fire in a must-win match in Brisbane.

A former Australian Schoolboys representative, Robson has played 87 NRL games – 78 at the Cowboys after nine at St George Illawarra – since his debut in 2018 and Kangaroos assistant coach Michael Hagan, in his column for The Roar, said the Cowboys hooker was made for this arena.

Reece Robson of the Cowboys (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“He’s got a toughness about his game, defensively. He’s in the top few tacklers in the NRL, has played every minute this year for the Cowboys and you know he won’t let you down.

“Robson’s got a potent running game and provides good skill from dummy-half. His kicking is not his strong suit but it’s developing and because he plays 80 minutes every week at club level, he’ll be able to play lengthy stretches for the Blues depending on the role they give him with Api Koroisau out with his broken jaw.”


Utoikamanu played three games for Parra in 2020 and has since lined up 43 times for the Wests Tigers, earning a reputation as one of the NRL’s most promising front-rowers.

NSW Origin II team

1 James Tedesco
2 Brian To’o
3 Latrell Mitchell
4 Tom Trbojevic
5 Josh Addo-Carr
6 Jarome Luai
7 Mitchell Moses
8 Junior Paulo
9 Damien Cook
10 Payne Haas
11 Tyson Frizell
12 Hudson Young
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Stefano Utoikamanu
15 Cameron Murray
16 Liam Martin
17 Reece Robson
18 Stephen Crichton
19 Keaon Koloamatangi