Thursday, June 13, 2024

Gus blames Blues’ tactical flaw for Hynes flop

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League great Phil Gould has voiced his support for Nicho Hynes to retain his place in the NSW side as calls for the Sharks‘ halfback to be dropped for Origin II continue to grow.

The series opener was a nightmare for coach Michael Maguire‘s side as the Blues were humiliated 38-10 on their home turf by a fierce Queensland side.

Hynes struggled to make a significant impact after being handed the halfback jersey in the absence of Nathan Cleary, who was sidelined due to injury.

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NSW selectors are expected to make some big calls ahead of game two, with Parramatta’s Mitchell Moses emerging as a leading contender to take the No.7 jersey.

The decision would be a brutal call on Hynes, who made his second appearance in the Origin arena during the series opener.

Cronulla elected to rest the star halfback following the match as he recovers from a lingering calf issue. However, the decision means the 27-year-old will only have one game to convince Maguire that he should retain his spot in the NSW team when the Sharks face the Dolphins.

With Moses returning from a lengthy period on the sidelines, Gould said he was likely to be picked over Hynes, adding that he didn’t feel the Sharks star had been set-up to succeed by the game plan.

Nicho Hynes runs with the ball during State of Origin I.  Getty

“I think Nicho Hynes is a very unique sort of player,” Gould said on Nine’s 100% Footy.

“He really suits the Cronulla Sharks. They are the blokes he trains with every week, every session, he plays both sides of the field.

“He’s got a unique way of running the ball. He is kind of instinctive in what he does.

“[But] if Mitchell Moses was available leading into Origin I – they’d pick Mitchell Moses.

“I was worried with how that [Hynes] would gel with all these other players on a five-day preparation leading into Origin.

“We really didn’t tap into him at all. We didn’t play Nicho Hynes sort of football.

“To me looking at it was kinda like they asked Nicho to fit in with them rather than them fit in with Nicho. I don’t know if that would’ve made him overly comfortable.

Watch the 2024 State of Origin series exclusively live and free on Nine and 9Now.

“The key [for Maguire’s next selection] is whether or not that experience from Origin I is going to give [Hynes] confidence or if it’s going to take away his confidence. Has it done him good or bad?”

Gould challenged the Blues not to burn Hynes for a second time, arguing that they need to cater for his style of halfback play.

“Mitchell Moses is now available and he’s had two solid games,” said Gould.

“I think if you’re going to have a Nicho Hynes in this side… I’m not saying he’s not an Origin player or won’t be [in Origin II].

“I think the coach really needs to accommodate Nicho and the way Nicho wants to play.

“Everyone on both edges knows what he does. They know the lines he’s going to run and in Origin I felt like he got left stranded a number of times.

Mitchell Moses. Parramatta Eels.

Mitchell Moses catches the ball.  Getty

“It’s kind of like we bring in a halfback and we want them to play like Nathan Cleary – well, there’s only one Nathan Cleary. They’ve got to come in and play their own natural game.”

Gould shut down a comparison between Hynes’ game one performance with that of Cody Walker during Origin III in 2023, claiming Walker was able to play his natural game.

“The difference the year before was that Cody Walker just comes in and plays Cody Walker football,” Gould said.

“He doesn’t care. He just comes in and plays his game.

“That’s what he does and that’s why we were successful.

Cody Walker was sensational for the Blues in Origin III. Getty

“We won that last game last year 24-10 and we made 12 changes to that side.”

Paul Gallen backed Hynes’ selection for game two stating: “I think he would be better for [the team].”

“I would like to see him get picked again,” he said.

“He didn’t play great in the first game and I can admit that but he never stopped trying.”

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