Edwards brings speed and agility to NSW

Margie McDonald

Westpac NSW Blues fullback Dylan Edwards can’t pinpoint where his speed or jumping ability came from but both are certain to be on show against Queensland in Game Two of the Ampol State of Origin at the MCG tomorrow night.

His NSW and Penrith Panthers teammate Jarome Luai believes Edwards is in superlative form at this point in time.

“He’s been in the best form of his career … he’s definitely that Origin tough player that’s never too far from the ball in both attack and defence,” Luai said.

“He just needs to be himself and he’ll be right.”

Revealing his true talents in the 2024 NRL season, Edwards has produced eight tries, six try assists, 81 tackle-busts and an average of 237 running metres per game.

He won both the Clive Churchill Medal, as the best player in the 2022 NRL Grand Final, and the Merv Cartwright Medal as Penrith’s best that same year.

But there’s no statistics on how high he leaps to catch kicks, the number of try-saving tackles he’s made, or the time he takes to get to top speed from a standing start.

He is so quick that some might ponder if, when growing up, his backyard in Bellingen, northern NSW, had prickles.

“There was plenty of bindis but I don’t really know where the speed came from,” Edwards told nswrl.com.au.

“I didn’t really do athletics – I just ran.

“I did play some cricket so maybe that’s why my hand-eye coordination is okay but I have no idea where or how running fast started.”

Edwards talents finally get to grace the Origin stage in Game Two after he was forced to withdraw at the 11th hour of Game One due to a quad muscle strain.

“Obviously a huge disappointment initially,” he said.

“I sort of got my head wrapped around it, let my emotions out, and then tried to help prepare the boys the best I could.

“I got to experience Origin from the box, from the coach’s point of view, which was something different and very cool.”

Edwards has been part of the past four NRL Grand Finals, winning a premiership ring in the last three.

But he has had to bide his time for a shot at the NSW No.1 jumper with three-time Dally M Fullback of the Year winner James Tedesco holding the position since 2016.

“It was obviously a dream but I knew that ‘Teddy’ (Tedesco) was (NSW) captain and in outstanding form so it was just one of those things, he said.

“I just kept trying to perform well for my side and just wait for an opportunity.”

He knows Origin will be similar to a grand final atmosphere and that’s one of the reasons he loves Rugby League so much.

“It’s just the mateship and memories you make on the field,” Edwards said.

“There’s nothing quite like the adrenalin, the high-octane nature of Rugby League.

“It’s a different beast and it’s very hard to explain to people what it’s like being in it and playing it.”