juin 19, 2024

State of Origin 2024 news, Warriors forward Mitchell Barnett a late NSW Blues team bolter, says Andrew Johns

2 min read

New South Wales legend Andrew Johns has put forward a surprise late bolter for the Blues squad.

The champion halfback says Warriors forward Mitchell Barnett could be a shock inclusion in Michael Maguire’s first State of Origin squad, to be announced on Monday.

Barnett, 30, has never been selected for representative duty during a 155-game NRL career.

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But Johns believes he could do the job for NSW if called upon.

« Geez he’s playing well, » Johns said of Barnett on Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and the Eighth.

« Coming off the bench, Mitch Barnett… (he’s) mad. It’s a controlled mad.

Mitchell Barnett of the Warriors and Phoenix Crossland of the Knights collide. (Getty)

« I do (think he’s in the mix) – he’s played backrow and middle. »

Barnett is a versatile forward who has spent time playing in the middle and on an edge for the Warriors this year.

His final Origin audition will be against the Dolphins on Sunday, and he may yet make a late run into the squad.

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He’s previously had a reputation as a hot-head on the field, which former Blues coach Brad Fittler said Michael Maguire would be concerned about.

« Sometimes you can go too mad. You give away a couple of penalties (and) you change the whole game, » Fittler replied to Johns.

« He can play both (middle and edge), that’s handy – it’s like Liam Martin. »

While Johns believes Barnett is a chance of making Maguire’s squad, he didn’t select the former Knights forward in his ideal Blues team.

Both he and Fittler have instead chosen Liam Martin and Hudson Young as their utility forwards.

While Martin is generally a backrower for Penrith, Fittler picked him as a starting front-rower in his NSW side.

« Liam in the middle, I’ve played him in the middle before, » Fittler said.

« He does a great job, very aggressive. »

Fittler’s « bolter » is Panthers hooker Mitch Kenny, who Johns didn’t include in his squad at all.

« I just think he’s suited, » Fittler said of Kenny.

« He’s played in enough grand finals now, he plays hooker and also can play as a backrower or lock forward.

« He also gives you great service out of dummy-half… and (he’s) tough. »

Both the Blues and Maroons will reveal their squads for Origin I on Monday morning.

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