Boyd Cordner will not play State of Origin this season as he recovers from concussion concerns that ruled him out of the final two games of last year’s series and have jeopardised his NRL career.
New South Wales coach Brad Fittler on Wednesday confirmed he had spoken to the former Blues captain about the decision, with the 28-year-old yet to play again for the Sydney Roosters.
Cordner sustained his latest of head knock during the 2020 Origin series opener and was controversially allowed to return to the field. Two days after game one, he withdrew from the remaining two matches on a precautionary basis given his history of repeated concussion.
The 28-year-old is expected to return to the NRL within four to six weeks after a lengthy lay-off but Fittler said the back-rower will not be considered to play for the Blues in the 2021 series starting on 9 June.
“I spoke to Boyd, we won’t consider Boyd for this year,” Fittler said. “I’ve spoken to him and I want him to get back on the field.”
Fullback James Tedesco is certain to retain the captaincy after taking over from Cordner in game two of last year’s series loss to Queensland. However, the unavailability of the edge forward will leave a big hole in the Blues line-up, which has already been hit with injury up front.
An ankle injury to Cameron Murray has him in doubt for the series opener at the MCG, while Angus Crichton and Tyson Frizell are the only remaining fit second-rowers from last year’s squad.
With 18 days until selections are made, Fittler has a shortlist of players but is keeping his options open.
“There was an indication [Murray would] be back in round 13 initially, but you never know with that sort of stuff,” Fittler said. “There’s a few back-rowers down, that’s where we’re a bit short at the moment.
“We’re still just hoping they come back, but there’s some back-rowers out there who can play themselves into a spot.”
Parramatta pair Ryan Matterson and Shaun Lane are two of them.
Like Cordner, Matterson has a complicated history with concussions and has spent a month on the sidelines this season dealing with ongoing symptoms. The 26-year-old is two games into his NRL return and Fittler said he would have no reservations picking him based on his concussion history.
“That’s fine, they were incredibly responsible with Ryan,” he said of the Eels’ conservative approach to Matterson’s recovery.
The in-form Eels are second on the ladder and Fittler likes players in Origin camp with confidence.
“Shaun Lane is also doing an incredible job for them as well,” Fittler said. “He was a great left back-rower and he’s changed to the other side and played a bit of middle as well so he’s shown his versatility. “With 18 days, three weeks to go, there’s a lot that can happen.”