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Hynes ready for Origin recall after 2023 lesson

Scott Bailey -

Nicho Hynes has declared if he's not ready for a State of Origin recall this year he never will be, as the Cronulla star eyes the seemingly vacant NSW five-eighth spot.

With the Sharks finally looking to assume NRL heavyweight status, the playmaker has credited last year's Origin heartbreak and a shift in mindset for his recent form.

Handed his Blues debut off the bench in Origin I last year, Hynes was dropped after a 12-minute period on the field when Queensland scored a go-ahead try through his unfamiliar position of centre.

But nearly 12 months after admitting it rocked his confidence, Hynes has begun to reframe his thinking around his debut amid the Sharks' on-field success.

Braydon Trindall's alleged DUI incident cast a shadow off the field at the Sharks in the lead up to Saturday's clash with Canberra, but on it Hynes helped his side take top spot on the ladder through seven rounds.

"I think (the Origin debut) has set me up for how I'm going now," Hynes told AAP.

"Yeah, I was a bit rattled by it but I've learned a hell of a lot.

"I think it's made me a better player from it."

Hynes said chats with Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon had motivated him to focus less on personal KPIs in his third season as the side's halfback.

Some of Hynes's best moments in 2024 have been absent from the stats sheet, such as the pinpoint kick he put up early in the round-seven clash against North Queensland.

Hynes cleverly drove fullback Scott Drinkwater towards the sideline with his boot, forcing an offload that led to the Sharks' first try and set the carnage in motion. Cronulla won 42-6.

"I've been guilty of searching for try assists and line-break assists the last couple of years," Hynes admitted.

"But right now the most important stat to me is winning.

"I understand the game really well, I feel like I've got a really smart footy brain, but I just feel like I'm maturing more as a halfback."

It's all left Hynes feeling he could make the best of a second chance in the Origin arena.

Nathan Cleary has a lock on the NSW halfback spot if fit but given incumbent No.6 Cody Walker's form struggles at last-placed South Sydney, the five-eighth jersey looks wide open.

Mitch Moses is racing the clock to prove his fitness before the series opener on June 5, while Jarome Luai will make a case for a recall.

Hynes has been in contact with new Blues coach Michael Maguire and is eyeing the chance to test himself in the Origin arena in a starting role.

"If I'm not ready right now, then I don't think I'll ever be," he said.

"I feel like if I'm called for that job, then I am ready to play No.6. I'd just love to play a rep game in my position.

"But I'm not really thinking about Origin, to be honest ... All I want to do is win games for the Sharks."

Scott Bailey - AAP


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