Edwards earns his spot through consistency: Maguire

Westpac NSW Blues coach Michael Maguire said Penrith’s Dylan Edwards was one of the most consistent players he had seen on a Rugby League field and had earned the fullback position through that high-quality play ahead of the 2024 Ampol State of Origin series. Maguire would not reveal the details of his conversation with former NSW captain James Tedesco, when he told him Edwards would wear the No.1 jersey for Game One on Wednesday 5 June. “I have the utmost respect for Teddy – he’s done everything in the game,” Maguire told the media at NSWRL’s Centre of Excellence today. “I’ll keep that conversation to myself but he’s a champion of the game and he’s playing some good footy so it was a big decision. “Dyl is a player at the highest level, has played four grand finals, won three, and he’s probably one of the most consistent players I’ve seen in a long, long time and over a long period of time. “I just felt in my gut it was the right time to give him the opportunity.” A moment in the Panthers win over Cronulla-Sutherland in last Saturday’s NRL match it for Maguire, who was in the stands at PointsBet Stadium last weekend. “There was a ball kicked down – and he was on one side of the field – and it could have been a 40-20 but he sprinted to the other side of the field,” Maguire said. “That effort I saw in him to not only save the 40-20 but then he takes the second carry and they get down the other end of the field and put the opposition under the pump.” Both Edwards and Tedesco have scored seven tries in 11 games this season. But the Panthers custodian averages 233 metres compared with Tedesco’s 170. The vacant skipper’s position will be filled by Manly Warringah co-captain Jake Trbojevic, who is about to make his 18th appearance for the Blues having played a part in every series since making his debut in Game One 2017. “You can’t ask for much more when you see Jakey talk about this jersey and the passion he has for the Blues jersey,” Maguire said. “He’s a character and I want that in my captain to show what the jersey means.” Alongside Tedesco, opting for North Queensland Cowboys Reece Robson over Wests Tigers hooker Api Koroisau was another tough decision. “I think Reece has just been very consistent, very strong on both sides of the ball… that’s the way I chose to go,” Maguire said. “Api is a great man and obviously I had to make a decision but I’m really confident in what Reece can do. He’s a strong player.” A further position up for debate was at centre with Maguire choosing rugby-bound Joseph Sua’ali’i. Maguire said he had no hesitation in selecting the Sydney Roosters outside back having known him since he was 13 and had many conversations with him about his football. “I do know his passion around Rugby League because I know him,” he said. “His future is his future but at this present moment we’ve got a job to do and that’s performing and playing for the Blues and I know he’s grown up wanting to do this.” Maguire says former Dally M winner Nicho Hynes has received positive news on his calf scans and can start training. The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks halfback was yesterday named at No.7 in the 20-strong squad, despite having some issues with his calf including not being able to finish the game against Penrith. “He had a scan yesterday and it looks really good. There’s no further damage – I think it actually looked better, so I think he’s through that now. “Obviously I’ll talk to my staff over the next couple of days and how we work out his training. “But I reckon he’ll hit the ground running on day one. We’re really confident that where he’s at, he’ll be able to train from day one.” The Westpac NSW Blues went into camp at Sydney Olympic Park today but will then move to the Blue Mountains on Wednesday, where they will have their first field session.
Margie McDonald