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A recent stint in the centres for the Raiders has NSW forward Hudson Young confident he can step into the role if called upon during next week's State of Origin opener. 

The Canberra star was one of four forwards named on the interchange, with NSW coach Michael Maguire opting against selecting a specialist back as injury cover. 

Queensland have taken the opposite approach, with Selwyn Cobbo waiting in the wings in jumper No.17 in case a starting back goes down. 

While he may not resemble your typical speedster, Young revealed he has plenty of experience playing in the centres and won't take a backwards step if called upon. 

"We prepare all the time at club-land in many different positions," Young told "I've played many positions before and I'm happy to play anywhere. 

"I've played centre at the Raiders when there's injuries. I played there two weeks ago when there was an HIA. I think most back-rowers have the ability to go out there and play."

Here comes Hudson

Maguire's gamble comes as Head Injury Assessments and injuries have changed the nature of State of Origin contests, with a host of backs forced to leave the field in recent years. 

Maroons coach Billy Slater cited the fact his side has lost an outside back in four of the past six matches as a key reason in his decision to select Cobbo. 

NSW have been burnt by the bench makeup in recent years. Nicho Hynes was forced to defend in the centres in Game One last year and missed a crucial tackle that led to Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow's match-winning try.

Hudson Young has been in impressive form for the Raiders this year.
Hudson Young has been in impressive form for the Raiders this year. ©NRL Photos

Lightning struck twice three weeks later, with Damien Cook thrown into the centres after Tom Trbojevic tore his pec just two minutes into Game Two. The Blues lost both matches. 

The trend has continued during the 2024 NRL season, with teams winning just six of 23 games if they have lost an outside back to injury at or before half-time.

Maguire, however, opted for a physical bench made up of Young, Isaah Yeo, Spencer Leniu and Haumole Olakau'atu, with utility Matt Burton relegated to 18th man. 

Young acknowledged the danger of losing a back but said the team can cover any injury that pops up.

"Madge has picked a strong bench," he said. "You can't pick a player for every position. It's the beauty of the game, other plays have to dig in and play where needed sometimes. 

"Madge and the coaching staff have a plan around that. I'm happy to go out there and play whatever position they need; I'll play halfback to be honest."

Young on dream Origin debut

Young's selection for the Blues caps an emotional return to the State of Origin fold after a disappointing debut series last year. 

The Raiders backrower played just 30 minutes on debut in Game One before an improved showing in Game Two and was dropped for the dead rubber at Accor Stadium

Another shot at Origin was a key goal for 2024 and it was an emotional phone call with Maguire when he told Young he was in the team.

Hudson Young left his mark on the Maroons during his debut Origin series.
Hudson Young left his mark on the Maroons during his debut Origin series. ©NRL Photos

The pair formed a close bond in Canberra last year, where Maguire was an assistant coach under Ricky Stuart. 

"I spoke to [Maguire] on Sunday and he let me know I was in, I was stoked," Young said. "I worked so hard to get back in this position. It's something I'm really proud of myself for. 

"Being able to watch and learn from Madge, have someone of his experience guiding me along the way was really helpful. I haven't had him as a head coach but I'm excited to do so and see what he brings."

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.