Wade Graham is set to reprise the ruthless shutdown role on Johnathan Thurston that earned him his State of Origin suspension, when the Cronulla star finally does make his interstate debut.
Graham’s relentless and in your face defence on Thurston helped set up the Sharks’ dramatic 13-10, round 14 win over North Queensland.
However it also resulted in his suspension from Origin II, due to a high tackle on the Queensland playmaker.
The 25-year-old Graham will make his debut in next week’s final Origin match for the season.
And with the likes of Beau Scott and Greg Bird no longer part of the Blues set-up, Graham could be handed the biggest of defensive tasks for the Blues, containing the world’s best player in Thurston in captain Paul Gallen’s final interstate game.
“Loz will come up with a game plan and see what Wade can do,” Gallen said.
“He brings something different to this team. He has that passing game, that kicking game, a lot more skill than most backrowers and that toughness too.
“Loz will come up with a game plan he can use that skill.”
The Blues flew to their Coffs Harbour base on Tuesday morning.
Coach Laurie Daley took the side through a video session on Tuesday afternoon as the Blues dissected their series losing game two defeat in Brisbane.
NSW will train in Coffs Harbour for the first time on Wednesday morning in what is probably the last time they will be based in the northern NSW town.
For the time being Graham is simply enjoying his time in camp.
“I haven’t really thought about the game all that much, I am just soaking it up at the moment,” he said.
NSW expect Queensland to take them on up the middle, after coach Kevin Walters changed the Maroons tried and true tactic of having a utility and three forwards on the bench.
In the absence of Michael Morgan and Josh Papalii through injury, Gavin Cooper and Nate Myles have been added to the visitors’ bench leaving them with four interchange forwards.
For the Blues centre Josh Dugan will play his first game this series, after missing the first two due to injury.
“I think they are going to try and match our forwards,” Dugan said.
“Our forwards have done a pretty good job in the first two games and we have just let them slip both times.
“Having our forwards on the bench with Jack Bird, he really added that spark in game two, will be interesting.”