Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell looks very unlikely to be back in action in time for Origin II.
New South Wales coach Brad Fittler is set to pull a late switch for his Blues side for Origin I on Wednesday night – and it ‘makes a lot of sense’.
Speaking of switches, Queensland coach Billy Slater has confirmed a backline weapon will be playing on the opposite side to what he plays in club land.
Meanwhile, Josh Addo-Carr continues to win plenty of plaudits despite his tough axing after years of starring for Fittler’s side.
Here’s all the latest in Origin Daily!
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LATRELL’S ORIGIN II ODDS SLIM
Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou has declared Latrell Mitchell is “next to no chance” to return from a hamstring injury in time for Origin II on Sunday, June 26.
Mitchell has been ruled out of this weekend’s game for the Rabbitohs after contracting Covid-19, but Demetriou told The Sydney Morning Herald the superstar fullback likely won’t be back in action until Round 16 — after Origin II.
“He’s next to no luck (for the Round 15 Dragons game). We get the bye week, so he is looking more at Round 16,” Demetriou said.
“I would say he would be next to no chance of playing Origin (Game 2).
“He has done a lot of work to get the strength in his quad and get the work he needed to do to get his running right, which he has done. But he hasn’t done the work in terms of rugby league training.
“We have two games and then another bye, so it is a good time for us to make sure we get him health first and foremost from Covid, and then back and fit to play for a massive back end to the year.”
NRL 360’s Braith Anasta said on Monday night though that if Mitchell was to be ready in time for Game 2 he’d pick him for the Blues — if they lose on Wednesday — without any game time at club land.
“If they lose Game 1 and I’m Freddy, he’s done a job in Origin, I don’t care personally if he’s played or not — I know he’s a gun, he’s a superstar — I’d pick him,” Anasta said .
“But Souths have insinuated that he won’t be ready.”
However Paul Kent believes that would be a “great leap of faith” from the NSW coaching staff because Mitchell would likely need some time to get his match fitness back.
“I’d be reluctant to pick him based on the fact that he isn’t a block that you would call naturally fit,” Kent said.
“He’s a guy who plays himself into condition, even when he does look fit in the past it generally takes him a couple of games to get going.
“All I’m saying is I don’t think Freddy is going to rush him back in for Game 2 without a game for the best part of eight weeks.”
SLATER CONFIRMS COATES SWITCH
Queensland coach Billy Slater had confirmed Xavier Coates will play on the left wing to allow debutant Selwyn Cobbo to play on his preferred right wing.
There were question marks over who would make the switch given both Coates and Cobbo both play on the right for their clubs (Storm and Broncos), but Slater told Channel 9’s The Sunday Footy Show that Coates would move to the left.
It comes after it was reported last week that Cobbo had been training on the right wing, with Coates on the left during the Maroons’ first training session.
CRICHTON OR WIGHTON?
Rumors continue to grow that Brad Fittler will backflip on one of his most controversial selection decisions, and instead have Panthers gun Stephen Crichton start at the centers in place of Jack Wighton.
Phil Rothfield this morning told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast: “We keep hearing that Stephen Crichton won’t take his place on the bench and will actually be in the starting line-up and play in the centres. And Jack Wighton will drop back to the bench.
“I think it makes a lot of sense, his relationship with the Penrith halves and Brian To’o and Isaah Yeo the lock forward.
“I think that would strengthen the NSW side. I’m not critical at all of Jack Wighton. He’s a great player and you know he’ll get his job done there.
“But I just like combinations. It’s one thing (that) NSW has the advantage over the Queenslanders, with that Penrith combination. They’ve been clearly the best side all year, they’re the best four or five players at the Penrith club and they should all be on the field together.”
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Wighton has 9 Origin caps under his belt, playing in the centers for the Blues on five occasions. NSW assistant Greg Alexander told SEN radio last week:
“It was a very difficult decision coming up with who should fill the spots of Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic who were the centers in all three games last year.
“I think the fact that Jack’s played center on five occasions and has done a good job, we just like the energy from Jack, the aggressive nature that he plays the game and Stephen is there to cover for the fullback, wing or center spots.
“Jack’s won it because of the aggressive way he plays football, high-energy, he loves chasing kicks, that’s a big part of Origin.
“A big part of Origin isn’t the skill you bring to the game but what you do for your teammates.
“We’ve gone with Jack’s way in this one.”
HUGE PRAISE FOR FOXX’S REACTION
Josh Addo-Carr might have been on all of the NRL’s marketing material for State of Origin this year, but he won’t be taking part in Origin I.
His reaction to being focused by the Blues has been nothing short of professional and humble.
Phil Rothfield, returning from a trip to Melbourne to watch George Kambosos fight, was immensely impressed after seeing the veteran Bulldogs flyer interact with fans at the airport.
Rothfield told Big Sports Breakfast: “I bumped into him at the airport, Josh Addo-Carr. I’ve never ever seen anyone do as many selfies as he did.
“Despite what’s happened, he’s got a smile on his face. He’s joking around with the punters.
“The way he’s carried himself – I interviewed him last week – he’s not dirty on the Blues whatsoever. He’ll still be sitting there and cheering them and he’s desperate for NSW to win. He wants his spot back (but) I just really admire the way he’s taken this setback.”
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GRANT GRANTED GREEN LIGHT
Queensland’s Harry Grant has declared himself fully fit for Game I after recovering from the flu and a groin injury. The 24-year-old only arrived at the Maroons’ base at Sanctuary Cove last Wednesday due to his illness and injury, but is rarer to go.
And Rothfield confirmed this morning that the Storm rake would be right to play, coming off the bench with Ben Hunt starting at hooker.