James Tedesco presented an irresistible case for NSW selection, Blues coach Laurie Daley said after the Wests Tigers star was named on Monday to make his State of Origin debut.
Tedesco will play fullback for the Blues in next week’s Origin III, in place of Matt Moylan who was axed from Daley’s side in the fallout from their series defeat last month.
Greg Bird has also been dumped, and his Origin career likely over, with Wade Graham coming in.
Josh Dugan returns at centre for the Blues for game three at ANZ Stadium on July 13 after missing the first two games with an elbow injury.
Dylan Walker falls out of the side.
But it was Tedesco’s long-awaited and inevitable call up to the Blues side, after a series of stunning performances at NRL level, that was the main talking point after the team announcement.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to make a couple of changes, but the guys that have come in certainly deserved their positions,” Daley said at ANZ Stadium.
“Obviously James has been knocking down the door. Dugan was going to be there for game one and Wade was going to be there for game two so I thought the right thing was to give those guys an opportunity.
Graham missed game two due to suspension.
Despite his axing, Moylan remains a big part of Daley’s plans.
“He took it as how you would want him too, disappointed but determined to be back,” Daley said.
“Matty will be back he is a long term Origin player for NSW.
“He is guy we have huge amounts of respect for.”
After 15 Origin games, it is hard to see Greg Bird, 31, pulling on the Blues jersey again.
“He has been a mainstay of our team for several years and it is always hard to leave those guys out,” Daley said.
“But when we looked at it we wanted to bring Wade in and we wanted to reward Tyson (Frizell) and Jack (Bird) as well.”
NSW: James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson, Michael Jennings, Josh Dugan, Josh Mansour, James Maloney, Adam Reynolds, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Josh Jackson, Tyson Frizell. Int: Jack Bird, David Klemmer, Andrew Fifita, James Tamou.
Development players: Tom Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic, Bryce Cartwright.