State of Origin, teams, squads, NSW Blues, Michael Maguire, Joseph Suaali’i, playing in the halves, Nicho Hynes, Mitchell Moses

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NRL 360 presenter Braith Anasta has named what he believes should be the New South Wales team for State of Origin I – and one particular selection has sparked major debate.

Anasta stayed true to incumbent No. 1 and NSW skipper James Tedesco, choosing a half combination of Nicho Hynes at five-eighth and Mitchell Moses at halfback.

His bench includes four debutants in Sharks workhorse Cameron McInnes, Manly powerhouse Haumaole Olakau’atu, Roosters prop Spencer Leniu and, in a surprise selection, Warriors forward Mitch Barnett.

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But it was who he put on the wing that provoked the biggest reaction from the NRL 360 panel.

Three-time premiership winner and incumbent winger Brian To’o is on one side and the other is Joseph Suaali’i.

Braith Anasta picks his NSW team.Source: FOX SPORTS

Anasta admitted in his explanation that Suaali’i “could be controversial” but said he chose him because “I love his heart, I love his strength and his ability to bring the ball back and our sets for NSW to start. I think it will be invaluable. ”

Veteran News Corp journalist Phil Rothfield was the first to voice his opinion. He said he “likes the squad” but disagrees with Suaali’i’s selection as the Roosters star will leave the game to play rugby union at the end of the season.

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“I think we need to pick players who are absolutely committed for the long term and would die for the sky blue jersey of NSW,” he said.

“Joseph Suaali’i’s dream is to wear a Wallabies jersey. He has decided not to play the match anymore.”

However, Anasta questioned how Rothfield can assume Suaali’i has no dream of playing Origin, saying: “You can’t speak for him.”

But Rothfield stood by his opinion and believes there are players who deserve it more.

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“It’s not like we don’t have other options,” he said.

“Josh Addo-Carr or the league’s form winger Zac Lomax. We have options.”

Anasta admitted that he “has no problem with either,” but still prefers Suaali’i as his first choice.

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Retired England international James Graham joined the debate and argued that Maguire won’t even think about what Suaali’i will do next year.

“I don’t think you have to look to the future and the people who want to play in our game,” he said.

“Michael Maguire has to pick a team to win game one – that’s all his goal is. He chooses now: what will happen at the end of the year is not relevant.”

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But Rothfield dug in his heels.

“I’m asking to pick the team on form and I think Zac Lomax has had a better season than Suaali’i… and I guarantee everyone who watches this show will agree with me,” he said.

Graham agreed that “Maybe Lomax” has been in better form, but he believes Maguire will take more into account than just current form – and Suaali’i’s hard work out of trouble could be crucial for the Blues.

“To do the job that lies ahead of Michael Maguire and the NSW team, it is not about picking team of the year,” he said.

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