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The New Daily
Scott Bailey

Apisai Koroisau set for Origin as NSW leaves out Damien Cook

Apisai Koroisau says he' would easily slot back into his old Penrith partnerships for NSW. Photo: AAP

Apisai Koroisau’s heroics against North Queensland have been enough to retain his NSW No.9 jersey, after Blues selectors made a last-minute call to omit Damien Cook for Game I.

Fittler will officially unveil his team for the series opener on Monday morning, with Koroisau set to be named at dummy half and as the sole hooker for the Blues.

That will free up the room for Nicho Hynes to make his debut off the bench, with last year’s Dally M Medallist making an irresistible case for selection.

Hudson Young is also in the frame for a debut, set to be called into the Blues squad and an option to come off the bench.

It came after selectors convened on Sunday night in Coogee, in one of the most liveliest meetings of the Blues brains trust in years.

With concerns over their fitness and form, Tom Trbojevic and Josh Addo-Carr both did enough to be selected with big performances on Sunday afternoon.

Trbojevic in particular gave NSW hope he can return to his Wally Lewis Medal heights of 2021, scoring a hat-trick and running with vigour again against Canberra.

“Tommy has been down and it’s no secret,” Blues selector Greg Alexander said on Fox.

“Tom has been searching for something and he found it today.

“Great to see him hit the line hard and with a bit more speed than what he has been running at.”

That has left Campbell Graham without a spot in the 17, going from an option on both the wing and at centre to instead becoming a reserve for NSW.

Koroisau had also looked likely to be overlooked, before his hand in three tries in the Tigers’ 66-18 win over the Cowboys on Saturday night swayed selectors.

His combination with Penrith halves Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary, along with hooker Isaah Yeo, has also come to his aid.

“I obviously spent a few years with them, so the combination thing would be pretty easy I think,” Koroisau said on Saturday night.

The decision to leave Cook out is a brutal one, given he has played every Origin since debuting in Fittler’s first game as coach in 2018.

Experience has still largely won out, after Fittler toyed with the idea of only playing one debutant in a series opener for the first time since 1994.

Tyson Frizell is expected to earn his first Blues recall since 2020 off the bench with Liam Martin back starting on an edge..

Jake Trbojevic also proved his fitness on return from a calf tear for Manly against Canberra on Sunday, saving a try with his brother Tom.

Daniel Saifiti had been considered as an option on the bench, but that is now looking increasingly likely to go to Canberra forward Hudson Young.

Sydney Roosters second-rower Angus Crichton, Penrith centre Matt Burton and Bulldogs centre-turned-half Matt Burton are among the other players set to miss out after playing Game III last year.

Possible NSW side

James Tedesco, Brian To’o, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic, Josh Addo-Carr, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Payne Haas, Apisai Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic, Liam Martin, Cameron Murray, Isaah Yeo. Bench: Nicho Hynes, Junior Paulo, Tyson Frizell, Hudson Young/Daniel Saifiti.

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