Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Jasper Bruce

Koroisau to start for Blues in Origin II

Api Koroisau (l) will start, along with Penrith teammate Isaah Yeo (r), for NSW in Origin II. (AAP)

Penrith hooker Api Koroisau has replaced South Sydney's Damien Cook in NSW's starting side for game two of the State of Origin series in Perth on June 26.

Prior to the Blues' departure from Sydney on Monday morning, coach Brad Fittler said Koroisau was a chance to start at hooker but the move was confirmed when NSW released their team sheet at midday.

It marks the first time Cook has not started in the No.9 in Fittler's NSW coaching tenure, which dates back to 2018.

Fittler said Koroisau's inclusion didn't mean the coaching staff had lost faith in the Rabbitohs' Cook, who will come off the bench following a lukewarm stretch of form.

"That'll be a tactical change, going in with two hookers," Fittler said.

"Between (Cook) and (South Sydney teammate) Cam Murray, we've got a lot of confidence in them. They've been part of this group for a while now."

Ryan Matterson, Kotoni Staggs, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Tariq Sims have all been dropped from the 17 that lost 16-10 to Queensland in game one, with Jack Wighton (COVID-19) the only forced change.

Jacob Saifiti and Tyson Frizell are also out of the extended squad for Origin II.

Fittler said the only option after a defeat was to change tactics, especially when the three-match series is on the line.

"When you get beaten, you need to reassess," he said.

"We have no safety net at the moment.

"We went into the first game thinking a certain way about how the game would go and what we could do but it didn't happen."

Canterbury five-eighth Matt Burton and Cronulla enforcer Siosifa Talakai will make their Origin debuts at centre and from the bench, respectively.

Stephen Crichton will join former Penrith teammate Burton in the centres for his second Origin appearance.

"Jack Wighton obviously can't play and I just thought of Matt Burton, with the way he's playing (for the Bulldogs)," Fittler said.

"What Crichton does with Penrith, he's a great defender."

Jake Trbojevic missed the series opener but will start at prop for similar reasons.

"Just the way the game went in game one, I think we needed someone really defensively-minded," Fittler said of his decision to select the Manly middle forward.

Fittler has repeatedly stressed the importance of versatility to the Blues' set-up and said the inclusion of Talakai and Roosters forward Angus Crichton on the bench would help cover all bases.

"(Talakai) started the season in the middle, played on an edge and also has played centre," Fittler said.

"He was unlucky not to make the first game. He's someone we've been watching and we've been very excited watching.

"(Angus Crichton) is playing really powerfully at the moment. There are different ways he can play, in the middle or on an edge, but I'm really happy with the way he's going."

Fittler explained he had dropped Sims with one eye on the years ahead. Sims will be 33 in February and could choose to retire when his contract expires after 2023.

"He's done a fantastic job for NSW. We really appreciate what he's been doing but we're looking towards the future," Fittler said.


James Tedesco (capt), Brian To'o, Matt Burton, Stephen Crichton, Daniel Tupou, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Payne Haas, Apisai Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic, Cameron Murray, Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo. Interchange: Damien Cook, Angus Crichton, Junior Paulo, Siosifa Talakai. Reserves: Nicho Hynes, Joseph Suaalii, Jordan McLean, Clint Gutherson, Victor Radley.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.