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This was the moment that confirmed Michael Maguire’s decision to select Penrith’s Dylan Edwards over long-standing NSW captain James Tedesco at fullback for the opening State of Origin at Accor Stadium on June 5.

Maguire was in the grandstand at PointsBet Stadium on Saturday night pondering his halfback options after Nicho Hynes failed to return for the Sharks after half-time when Daniel Atkinson attempted a 40/20 kick in the 44th minute.

The Panthers led 28-0 after a dominant first half and with Hynes ruled out the premiers were eying off for a comfortable win but Edwards sprinted from the middle of the field to his left sideline as if the game was on the line.

Diving to stop the ball just before it went into touch, he picked it up and charged into the chasing Cronulla defenders before being tackled on Penrith’s 10-metre line.

Just three tackles later, Edwards received the ball from lock Isaah Yeo and linked Jarome Luai – both of whom are also in the NSW team – before backing up to receive another pass and run to within metres of the Sharks tryline.

Every try from Round 12, 2024

If Maguire needed any convincing about the selection bombshell, that 60 seconds confirmed to him Edwards was an Origin player.

“I was there at the game the other night and there was a ball kicked down … he was on one side of the field, and it could have been a 40/20, and he just sprinted to the other side of the field,” Maguire said.

Blues coach Michael Maguire was an interested spectator at PointsBet Stadium as Dylan Edwards confirmed his Origin credentials.
Blues coach Michael Maguire was an interested spectator at PointsBet Stadium as Dylan Edwards confirmed his Origin credentials. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

“That effort that I saw from him to save the 40/20 and then get in place to take the carry down the other end of the field and put the opposition under the pump really solidified my thoughts that this is where we're going.”

Clutching at a Blues jersey as he spoke, Maguire recounted the phone call he made to Edwards on Sunday night to inform him of his selection after appearing destined to never play Origin while Tedesco was available.

 “He said, ‘how are you going, Madge’. I said, ‘congratulations, mate’, and then there was just silence,” Maguire said. “Then he just thanked me, and he was so pleased. You could just sense that.

“I've had a lot of good conversations with Dylan and he's ready. I think we all believe that he's been ready for a long time so now it's about just enjoying the week and moving towards the game.”

Origin Audition - Jarome Luai

In contrast, the call to Tedesco was one of the toughest Maguire has had to make during a coaching career that includes premierships with Wigan and South Sydney, and steering the Kiwis to their biggest win against Australia in last year’s Pacific Cup final.

However, Tedesco was understanding of the decision to select a new fullback and new captain in Jake Trbojevic for the first match of the new era under Maguire.

After 22 consecutive Origin appearances, Tedesco was one of 11 NSW players from the final Origin of the 2023 series not included in the new look team, which includes six debutants.

“It was tough, but I understand why James is the person he is,” Maguire said. “I’ve got the utmost respect for Teddy. He’s done everything in the game.

“I'll hold what he said to me, but I can understand why he's going to go down as one of the champions of the game. He's playing some good footy, so it was a big decision.

Michael Maguire talks NSW Blues team or Origin I

“I just felt from the gut that it was the right time to give Dylan the opportunity to play.

“He’s a player who has been playing at the highest level, he has played in four grand finals and he's won three.

“He is probably one of the most consistent players that I've seen for a long time, over a long period of time.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.