Wade Graham could have his first NSW State of Origin jumper taken from him before receiving it after being penalised for a high shot in Cronulla’s NRL win over North Queensland on Monday.
Graham is the only change Blues coach Laurie Daley made for the state’s must-win game in Brisbane on Wednesday week, replacing injured second-rower Boyd Cordner.
Controversial game one selection Dylan Walker has retained his spot on the bench, while centre Josh Morris, who replaced injured St George Illawarra star Josh Dugan for game one, also remains in the team.
Sharks centre Jack Bird and Penrith star Bryce Cartwright have been added as development players.
However it’s rookie Graham who faces a nervous night’s sleep as he awaits the NRL match review committee’s verdict on his 65th minute tackle on Johnathan Thurston in the Sharks’ 13-10 win.
The Cowboys halfback was collared by Graham and fell back spectacularly, however referee Gerard Sutton only blew a penalty and didn’t put the 25-year-old on report.
“I thought it was a grab. It wasn’t a swinging arm and he didn’t clock him. He grabbed his chin,” Sharks and Blues skipper Paul Gallen said post-match.
“I think the referee summed it up best. It was a penalty and that’s where it should stay.”
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said Graham had deserved his call-up after years of being close to Origin selection, but conceded it would be of little interest to the MRC officials.
“I don’t think that’s going to make any difference with the review committee,” he said.
“But the referee didn’t put it on the report. He thought it was a tackle worth a penalty so hopefully that’s just the case.”
Graham was delighted by his selection.
“It’s hard to describe how I feel. I’m just going to enjoy this with my family. I’m going to enjoy the week and I can’t wait to get out there,” he told Triple M.
He said he wasn’t worried by the tackle on Thurston.
“He just slipped over there and lost his footing. It is what it is,” he said.
Daley said Graham had earned his debut.
“Wade has been around for a number of years and he’ll bring plenty to the table next Wednesday night,” Daley said.
“People may consider him to be unlucky not to be chosen in the past but he gets his opportunity now and we are excited to have him in the team.”
NSW need to win Origin II in Brisbane next week to keep the series alive after losing game one two weeks ago 6-4.
NSW team for State of Origin II: Matt Moylan, Blake Ferguson, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Josh Mansour, James Maloney, Adam Reynolds, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, James Tamou, Wade Graham, Josh Jackson, Paul Gallen (capt).
Interchange: Dylan Walker, Greg Bird, David Klemmer, Andrew Fifita
Development players: Bryce Cartwright, Jack Bird.