Paul Gallen has been granted his State of Origin swan song, but NSW coach Laurie Daley has already begun planning for life after the Blues skipper.
Daley has made three changes to his side for Origin III.
In the team announced on Tuesday at ANZ Stadium, James Tedesco replaces Matt Moylan at fullback, Greg Bird has been axed for Wade Graham in the back-row and the return from injury of Josh Dugan has pushed Dylan Walker out of the side.
In bringing in Tedesco and Graham, and keeping Tyson Frizell and Jack Bird after their impressive efforts in game two, Daley has bowed to popular demand and selected his team for the dead rubber on July 13 with one eye on the future.
“We are a relatively young team and we have been evolving over time,” Daley said.
“We have eight new guys this year and blooded 10 over the last two years. You throw in (Blake) Ferguson, who has only played one game in 2013 that is 11 and that is a huge turnover.
“The guys have got that experience this year and will hopefully come back better players next year.”
Tedesco presented an irresistible case for NSW selection.
“The guys that have come in certainly deserved their positions,” Daley said.
“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.
“Matty will be back. He is a long term Origin player for NSW,” Daley said.
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.”
After playing a part in 10 series losses in 11 years, including this season, Gallen, who some had called on to step aside to give a younger player an opportunity, will hang up the representative boots after game three.
“I was never after a swan song. I wanted to be here because I deserve to be here,” Gallen said.
“As far as it being my last game I don’t want it to be about me, it is about these young guys coming through. I need to teach them about Origin. I need to teach them how to get to a game fit and healthy and that is what I want to leave them with.
For other Blues mainstays such as Michael Jennings, Robbie Farah, and Josh Morris the 2016 Origin series might also be their last.
“I haven’t thought about that,” Farah said.
NSW: James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson, Michael Jennings, Josh Dugan, Josh Mansour, James Maloney, Adam Reynolds, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Paul Gallen (capt), Wade Graham, Josh Jackson, Tyson Frizell. Int: Jack Bird, David Klemmer, Andrew Fifita, James Tamou.
Development players: Tom Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic, Bryce Cartwright.