Mbye future clouded after Wests Tigers bench demotion

Moses Mbye's Queensland debut has taken on greater significance after revelations he was set to be dropped to the bench by the Wests Tigers just a few days prior to his Origin selection.

NRL.com understands Tigers coach Michael Maguire had decided to axe Mbye from fullback before the round 11 game against South Sydney, only for the skipper to be ruled out of through injury later that week.

It's a decision that could have significant ramifications, potentially placing Mbye's captaincy in question and his position at the club altogether, depending on how he responds.

With the Wests Tigers trying to move a number of players on to make room for possible recruits, the news of Mbye's near relegation will test the relationship between club and skipper.

"It was an emotional week," Mbye told NRL.com after his teary celebrations on Wednesday night.

"It was a rugby league rollercoaster. At one point there I was told I wasn't even going to be in the starting side for the Tigers, then I was injured, then I was in the Queensland side."

With the Tigers actively pursuing New Zealand skipper Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, the recent doubt around Mbye's position in the team is expected to create even more tension throughout a roster already uncertain about its future.

Maguire has a very high opinion of Watene-Zelezniak and is keen to lure the out-of-favour Panther to the club after he was granted permission by Penrith to negotiate elsewhere.

Maguire made Watene-Zelezniak fullback and captain of New Zealand last year, but both these roles are filled by Mbye at the Tigers.

Josh Reynolds's future is under a cloud given his injury toll in recent years, while Russell Packer and Elijah Taylor have been actively shopped around in recent weeks.

Watene-Zelezniak still has about $250,000 on his deal for the remainder of the year at the Panthers, with just over $500,000 for his final year of his contract next season.

He has met North Queensland coach Paul Green, however the Eels' interest in him has somewhat diminished over the past week.

The Cowboys had also been in discussions with Melbourne's Scott Drinkwater, however those discussions have also been put on hold given the Storm were hopeful of landing a front-rower from the Cowboys in a swap deal to cover for the departure of Canterbury-bound forward Joe Stimson.

The Tigers have denied they are shopping Mbye, however the skipper has had plenty of time to think about his future during his time in camp with the Maroons.

Mbye's family, and his partner's family, live in Queensland, making a move back to Brisbane or the Gold Coast appealing to the Tigers skipper if he was to find himself on the outer in the coming weeks.

He is being paid by the Bulldogs and the Tigers after making the switch to the joint venture club midway through last season.

It is understood Maguire had informed Mbye of his intention to leave him out of the run-on team at the start of the week leading into the match against South Sydney.

Moses Mbye celebrates Queensland's win.
Moses Mbye celebrates Queensland's win. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Mbye then picked up a groin injury 24 hours before kick-off which ruled him out of the game at ANZ Stadium.

Three days later he was on a plane to Brisbane to join the Maroons in camp after getting the nod over Anthony Milford to make his State of Origin debut at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.

Mbye, who had a slow start to the year but hit form over the last month to be rewarded with a spot on the bench for Queensland, has been named in the Wests Tigers No.1 jersey for Friday night's Bankwest Stadium clash with Canberra.

'Whisperer' tells Maroons job DONE

Within minutes of full-time of Queensland's victory over NSW in the opening match of the Origin series, the self-proclaimed coach whisperer Bradley Charles Stubbs sent a message into Queensland camp.

It read a little like this: DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE. Stubbs, arguably the most talked about man leading into the game, is in Fiji on holidays but he was in dialogue with a number of Queensland officials following the win.

While game one went to script, he was then quick to remind them that the overall mission was not yet over. Off to Perth they go.

McGuire taunts Walker over benching

Josh McGuire is not one to miss an opportunity when it comes to riling the opposition team. McGuire, always the villain in Queensland's victories, was sitting on the bench when Cody Walker was replaced by Jack Wighton midway through the second half.

Walker had to walk past the Maroons' bench with McGuire sticking the boot in by yelling "Freddy doesn't trust you, "Freddy doesn't trust you".

The NSW pivot put his head down and didn't respond to the taunts although his abrupt substitution will lead to plenty of conjecture about his position leading into Origin II in Perth on June 23.

Pearce recall calls growing louder

Mitchell Pearce will have a golden opportunity to put his case forward for Blues selection in their do-or-die clash with Queensland in game two when he faces off South Sydney on Friday night.

Cody Walker's underwhelming Origin debut has opened the door for Pearce to come into the side and potentially partner Nathan Cleary in the halves. Walker has been rested for the Newcastle duel, missing an opportunity to reaffirm his position in the NSW squad.

Pearce had a niggling groin injury that forced him out of game one, however a strong performance against the competition frontrunners in Sydney on Friday could have a massive bearing on the NSW halves for game two.

NSW's left edge looked shaky in both defence and attack, perhaps a result of Walker's lack of understanding of how Boyd Cordner and Latrell Mitchell like to play.

Pearce would have no such qualms, having played with both players for several years at the Roosters.

Speaking of Cordner, the Blues skipper looks highly unlikely to play for the Roosters on Sunday. He picked up an ankle injury early in the first half of Wednesday night's Origin, but managed to shoulder through the pain to finish the match.

He was limping around after the match and given his history, you'd expect the Roosters to rest him.

Matt lodges interest in exploring options

Matt Lodge is still to sort out his future at the Broncos, with a recent property purchase in Rouse Hill creating plenty of speculation about a potential return home to western Sydney.

The Eels have showed plenty of interest in signing Lodge, who has an option in his favour on his deal with the Broncos.

Lodge, and his partner, Jessica O'Sullivan, have family in Sydney – with the front-rower admitting it was a factor in his decision-making process considering the difficulties of raising a child without support close by from their families.

While Lodge owes plenty to the Broncos for helping him reignite his NRL dream after his well publicised off-field dramas, he believes he's repaid his debt to the club with his service to them over the past couple of years.

"I think we are pretty fair and square," Lodge said.

"I have done a few hard years here when I could have left. I can't owe them for my whole career. I am still happy to be here.

"It is a good club. That will be a factor as well. Life is pretty easy under Seibs (coach Anthony Seibold). He is good and we get along well.

"I guess family is a big thing. They are only an hour flight away at the end of the day. The club lets me jump on a plane and go and see them or stay when we play in Sydney.

"I am only young so I have my whole life to be around them. For the moment, I am just worried about the best place to play footy."

Big Joe souvenirs Ponga's headgear   

While most players give away their playing gear to young adoring fans, Kalyn Ponga gave his headgear to teammate Joe Ofahengaue after Wednesday's win.

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.