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New Blues coach wont rule out Latrell, Cody Walker despite Souths woes ahead of Origin period

Jarred Cross -

New Blues coach Michael Maguire has not ruled out Origin duties for Souths players amid the club's struggles to start the 2024 NRL season.

Bunnies captain Cameron Murray and Damien Cook have been mainstays in NSW's side in recent series, with Indigenous pairing Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker having their own experience in the jumper - the two missing last year's series with injury and being recalled into the halves for the first time in three years in 2023, respectively.

Speaking at the State of Origin launch in Melbourne this week, Maguire left the door ajar for their chance to produce at the level despite Souths' woes on and off the park at clubland.

"Every team I've been a part of and teams that I've coached, I've seen players that might have been in a tough period through the season, jump into the Origin arena and they can play really well," Maguire said, AAP reports.

"When you jump into the Origin arena you've got some of the best around you so it's amazing how all of a sudden they can jump to that level."

After a shock series defeat following the opening two games last year, Walker proved doubters wrong with a strong performance on return for the Blues steering a 24-10 win to take something from their campaign.

Walker served under Maguire's tutelage as Souths coach for two seasons at the start of his NRL career.

Debutant Bradman Best and Josh Addo-Carr - who was controversially looked past by previous coach Brad Fittler, combined for three of NSW's four tries on the night.

Maguire has also issued a task for Mitchell to run out for the Blues for the first time since 2021.

The 26-year-old has struggled to start this NRL season, with his position at fullback uncertain after giving up his spot to youngster Jye Gray for a debut while serving a suspension for an ill-disciplined elbow to Shaun Johnson in round five.

"It's Jye's spot at the moment, and if he keeps playing well, he's every chance to keep it," Demetriou told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"You never know in rugby league. Who is available in another two weeks' time might be different to who is available now."

Maguire said Mitchell will have to get into the right mindset to produce for the Blues.

Even with selection, NSW captain James Tedesco's position at no.1 isn't likely to open up for the 26-year-old.

"We all know how good Latrell can be. I guess the biggest thing for any player, this is just talking to all the players is making sure that you've got a pretty key head around where you are, because to be able to be at your best, I think having a clear head is a very important part of what we bring to the camp," he said.

After another impressive year, Kotoni Staggs will be among those in competition for a spot in this years series, with Nicho Hynes adding to his cameo appearance in game one last year with an international debut for the Kangaroos over the summer.


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