Queensland skipper Cameron Smith says the last minute inclusion of NSW rookie Jack Bird has made the Blues more dangerous.
Bird was initially named as a development player by NSW coach Laurie Daley.
But the Cronulla star will make his State of Origin debut off the Blues bench in Wednesday’s game two at Suncorp Stadium after Josh Morris’ injury caused a reshuffle.
The 21-year-old had impressed NSW teammates so much in camp that captain Paul Gallen reckoned Bird wouldn’t look out of place starting on Wednesday night.
Smith said Bird would be a handful no matter where he played for NSW.
“Jack Bird has been in supreme form for Cronulla for quite a while now,” he said.
“A few people were trying to put his name up for game one.
“He’s in there now, he’s a very good player.
“He adds more danger to our defence than what was in game one I believe.”
Gallen will equal Danny Buderus’ record for 15 games as NSW captain but the Blues leader said the real rush would be running out with his Sharks teammate Bird.
“I’ve known him since he was a 15 or 16-year-old boy, and to now be playing State of Origin with him, I feel honoured by it,” he said.
“He’s tough, he’s rugged, he’s got all the skills in the world – you can put him in any position you want him to and he’ll do the job.
“He’s a great young bloke and he’ll be here for a long time to come.”
Dylan Walker slotted into the centre vacancy created by Morris (groin) but Gallen said Bird would not let anyone down if he started.
“I could see value in it. I think he’s a great young player,” he said.
“But Dylan Walker was there game one, he’s now got a game under his belt so he’ll know what it’s all about.
“He’s back in his preferred position of centre which is where he plays his best football.
“I don’t mind which one of them starts, I’m sure they’ll both do a great job.”