Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler is breaking new ground in next Wednesday’s Ampol State of Origin finale and Blues advisor Greg Alexander agrees the move is a good one.
It centres around Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues 18th man and Penrith’s first-choice hooker, Api Koroisau.
With NSW losing both halves in Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, and prop Daniel Saifiti, there’s been some reshuffling and Koroisau has come onto the bench as No.14.
“It’s not something that we’ve had with the side since Freddy has been coach – we’ve never carried another hooker,” Alexander told Behind Blue Eyes for nswrl.com.au.
“Cookie (Damien Cook) has been the man to play 80 minutes right from 2018 onwards, when he made his debut back in Game I down there at the MCG.
“But we thought Api being the 18th man (for Games I and II) and being close to the team, great performer, and was the best player for the Panthers against the Eels last week – he had a great game - so he deserved his chance.”
Koroisau scored the try in the 50th minute that got the Panthers back level with the Eels 12-12 in the NRL round 16 clash before Matt Burton stepped up to pot the winning field goal.
Behind Blue Eyes | Game Three
But Koroisau’s presence was everywhere. He led the tackle count (62) for both teams, he had a line break and two tackle busts alongside his try, he made six dummy-half runs for 56 metres, and had 143 receipts in a stellar 80-minute performance.
“Api deserved his chance in coming off the bench – we’re not exactly sure how we’ll use Api. We’ll just see how the game unfolds,” Alexander said of the Game III match at Gold Coast's Cbus Super Stadium on July 14.
“But as long as he’s out there on the field Api, it doesn’t matter where he’s playing.”