Michael Maguire shuts door on NSW Matt Burton team switch on eve of State of Origin Game 1

NSW coach Michael Maguire says he will not make any late changes to his team, explaining that Matt Burton will remain the 18th man and will not play in Game 1 on Wednesday.

The Blues will be desperate to start the series and a new era with a win in Sydney at the Accor Stadium on Wednesday night, following a pre-match injury.

Maguire has backed Nicho Hynes to perform at halfback after the Sharks star recovered from a calf injury and impressed on the pitch.

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James Tedesco will play his 23rd consecutive match at Origin, returning to the squad just days after being sidelined after Dylan Edwards’ quad injury in training put a damper on his hopes of a NSW debut.

The Blues have named four forwards on the bench: Isaah Yeo, Spencer Leniu, Hudson Young and Haumole Olakau’atu.

Many, including NSW great Laurie Daley, believed coach Maguire would make a late change and bring the Bulldogs’ five-eighth Burton to the bench and leave either Young or Olakau’atu.

The Blues would be particularly exposed if there were an injury to halfback Nicho Hynes or five-eighth Jarome Luai.

Asked whether Burton would make the team, Maguire said on Tuesday: “He’s the 18th man.

“I’m really confident with the 17 I have. We have a great plan and we are training well.”

Told Billy Slater expected Burton to be named on the NSW bench, Maguire shut down any speculation.

“I have 17 guys lined up and they are ready to go,” he said.

“We’ve fine-tuned all the combos very well during the week and obviously there’s a connection with some of the players that I’ve trained over time and I know what they’re capable of doing, so we have to have some subtle adjustments on what a game can bring , so we are ready.

“I have faith in the team I have and that’s how we’re going to go.”

Maguire seems extremely confident in Hynes’ ability to play the full 80 minutes.

Prickly Billy responds to Cobbo's criticism

Blues icon Daley told radio last week: “Definitely, I think they might make a late change. I think Matt Burton fits the 17.”

Daley went on to say, “It’s a gamble without that utility player. I understand where you’re coming from. If you look at the team, and I like the team, but you try to cover every scenario that can happen and I would feel more comfortable with one of those, Olakau’atu or Hudson Young, being the 18th man and Burton in the 17th.”

While Cronulla workhorse Cameron McInnes can fill in with some penalty minutes in the dummy half, Maguire’s faith in his four-forward bench could see the Blues exposed if one of their half is injured.

There were farcical scenes last year when Hynes was named to the bench in the number 14 shirt but played just 10 minutes late in Game 1 in the centers before being dropped.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Slater refused to rule out late changes to his Queensland squad.

There’s a lot of appeal in the two teams’ contrasting approaches to their trade, with the Maroons naming two defensemen (Harry Grant and Selwyn Cobbo) and two forwards (J’Maine Hopgood and Moeaki Fotuaika).

“We still have a little bit of time left, but we will make that decision closer to kick-off,” said a shy Slater.

“We have until an hour before kick-off, before the team takes to the pitch, at which point the final will be played.

“I know I have spent more time observing our Queenslanders than anyone else.”

Queensland legend Paul Vautin disagreed with Cobbo’s selection on the bench, arguing for 18th man Felise Kaufusi to be brought into the team.

“I’m not happy with the bench. I don’t understand why we chose a central winger on the bench. I think we are missing another great striker,” Vautin told 4BC Radio.

“I don’t know who’s out there, but one who comes to mind is Corey Jensen (of the Broncos). Felise Kaufusi is number 18 and I would have had him on the bench instead of Selwyn.

“I’m not a selector, I never will be, but I’m also entitled to my opinion. Forwards win Origin matches. They do all the hard work.

The NRL has seen countless games this season where teams collapse and lose when a defensive player is injured early and it appears Slater is keen to avoid that scenario.

“I just don’t know how they’re going to get Selwyn back into the game short of injury, which we don’t want,” Vautin added.

“It’s a bit like New South Wales last year, they brought Nicho Hynes on the bench as support (in Game 1).

“He’s a boy who played full-back and midfielder and they brought him on with 10 minutes left at center. It seemed like he didn’t even know where the centers were.

“We ran around him, scored a try and he got hit for it, as did ‘Freddy’ (Brad Fittler).

“The same thing could happen to Selwyn. I know he has a strong build, but I think there is only one striker missing on the bench.”

Slater said on Tuesday: “Selwyn was fantastic. He has really matured in the last couple of years. He is a wonderful player. He can play different roles. Ultimately you just want Selwyn Cobbo on the pitch.

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