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'He is ready for Origin': Murray

From clubland to now representing their state together, Westpac NSW Blues lock Cameron Murray has thrown his support behind debutant and South Sydney teammate Keaon Koloamatangi ahead of Origin Game Three next Wednesday.

Koloamatangi - one of two Blues debutants alongside Newcastle’s Bradman Best - has patiently been waiting on the extended bench in recent series. But now he gets his opportunity to cement a spot in the squad.

Having played with him in some of the biggest games over the last two seasons – including the 2021 Grand Final – Murray says the young backrower is ready now more than ever for Origin. 

“He can compete in the Origin arena,” Murray said.

“He’s been playing at an elite level for the last couple of years. He has played in some big games, so he knows how to handle the pressure.

“I think he is more than ready and the times he has narrowly missed out and come in at 18th man (in Origin) has fuelled the fire in him to want to be here more.

“No doubt he is ready for the challenge.”

Throughout the 2023 season Koloamatangi has averaged 135 metres per game, in addition to five line breaks and five line-break assists, 11 off-loads and a 92 per cent tackle efficiency.

Those states prove his value as a threatening back rower in both attack and defence.

Blues and Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook has also witnessed first-hand how Koloamatangi has improved his game over the last few seasons and why he wholly supports the decision by NSW coaching staff to put him in the starting 13.

“Keaon has a great balance to his game at the moment,” Cook said.

“He has a great running game, he’s aggressive when he needs to be, which is great for Origin.

“He has great ball-skills and he has that ‘X’ factor. He deserves to be here.”

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours 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.

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