Veteran Greg Bird, not debutant Tyson Frizell, will start on the left edge for NSW in Wednesday’s must-win State of Origin clash in Brisbane.
Frizell was rushed onto the training paddock within an hour of arriving at the Blues’ Coffs Harbour camp on Thursday after being called in to replace the suspended Wade Graham.
But coach Laurie Daley has opted to shift the experienced Bird into the starting line-up and keep the St George Illawarra tyro as impact from the bench.
“I trained there today and it’s not foreign to me,” said Bird.
“I’ve played left edge for the majority of my Origin career. I’m looking forward to getting into that starting line-up.”
The Gold Coast star backed Frizell to make a strong impression in his first Origin outing.
“He’s been going great for St George,” Bird said.
“He’s a big body, he’s good on his feet and he’s quite fast as well.
“I’m sure he could come from an edge into the middle, he can play anywhere on the field. He can play in the front row, he’s big enough.”
Having been a part of a handful of Origin camps over the past 12 months, Frizell empathised with a devastated Graham, who also participated in the field session on Thursday.
Frizell has twice been named 18th man, including for the recent game one defeat in Sydney.
“I feel for Wade. He’s in a similar position as me, but very difficult for him to come to terms with it and I can understand that,” Frizell said.
The 24-year-old feared his Origin hopes would never be realised after again being initially being overlooked by Daley in favour of Cronulla second-rower Graham when Boyd Cordner was ruled out of Wednesday’s game at Suncorp Stadium through injury.
Asked whether his previous near-misses became disheartening, Frizell said: “It did there a bit. You get so close and then you’re not right there.
“But that only drove me to want to do well and hopefully find my way into this team.”
But Frizell, who made his NRL debut alongside Graham at the Sharks in 2011 before moving to the Dragons a season later, also said his three previous camps had a silver lining.
“If I didn’t have that experience, today would probably be a bit nerve-wracking for myself,” he said.
“But I’m ready to go. I just can’t wait to go out there and play. Speaking to (Daley), not too much has changed for us. I know the systems around the team and I’ll just go straight in there.”
The Blues players have a day off on Friday before resuming preparation on Saturday.