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True Blue Benny Elias with Westpac NSW head coach Michael Maguire. Photos: NRL

True Blue Ben Elias believes the man for the No.9 jersey in the 2024 Westpac NSW Blues team has to be Wests Tigers skipper Api Koroisau.

Elias, who made the hooker role his own playing 19 Origins for five series wins from 1985-1994, said he admired the talents of young rakes Blayke Brailey (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks) and incumbent Reece Robson (North Queensland Cowboys).

“Yes there is certainly some great competition. But you can’t help not backing Api – he’s got the experience, the runs on the board. He’s not let anyone down to date,” Elias told

“And he’s got the relationship and combination with Nathan Cleary at No.7. That is such a valuable thing when you only have a short time relatively in camp.”

The 31-year-old Koroisau broke his jaw before Game Two last year ruling him out of the rest of the Ampol State of Origin series.

But he’s only missed one game for Tigers this year and was part of the NRL Premiership-winning Penrith Panthers in both 2021 and 2022 alongside Cleary.

“I know I might be biased as Api is now a Tigers man but he’s taken on the captaincy role at the Wests Tigers with distinction," Elias said.

“He’s one of those beautiful players you can’t not love, if he’s in your team or not. He has such great ability and leadership qualities.

“I think he’s a lay-down misère for the No.9 jersey for the Blues.”

Game One is at Sydney’s Accor Stadium on Wednesday 5 June, while Game Two is at the MCG on Wednesday 26 June. Game Three is at Suncorp Stadium on 17 July.

Elias and Blues coach Michael Maguire were in Melbourne recently to mark 30 years from when the first Origin was played there in 1994 – won 14-0 by NSW.

“It was actually a masterstroke from Jeff Kennett, then Victoria Premier,” Elias said.

“Most said it wouldn’t work but the game ended up setting an Origin record of over 87,000.

“Jeff knew how iconic this game is and people will come. He knew what State of Origin was all about and he wanted it in his backyard.

“Just being part of history still gives me goosebumps when I think about it.”

NSW has a 5-4 record in Melbourne and Elias will be there to cheer on a sixth win.

“Absolutely, would not miss it for the world. Queensland will be going for three in a row and we’ve got to stop the rot – and we will.”

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