Jack Bird and Matt Moylan will both get the chance to stake a claim as a long-term halves prospect for NSW in State of Origin III.
Blues coach Laurie Daley confirmed on Tuesday that versatile Cronulla centre Bird will start in the halves alongside Sharks teammate James Maloney in Wednesday’s dead rubber game three at ANZ Stadium.
But Penrith fullback Matt Moylan will also be given ample time to excel in the frontline playmaking role, Daley said.
Both Bird and Moylan spent plenty of time training at first receiver at the Blues’ Coffs Harbour base in the lead-up and did so again during Tuesday’s captain’s run.
“We have made the call that Birdy will start but both will play there,” Daley said.
“Birdy is a kid who is very confident in his own ability and I still don’t know what his best position is.
“He will get an opportunity there. Having said that, Moylan will get an opportunity there.”
Bird moved into the halves in the Blues’ series-deciding game two loss in Brisbane after halfback Adam Reynolds suffered the shoulder injury that ruled him out of Game 3.
His unpredictability and combination with Maloney, who he also teamed with for Country Origin this year, could cause the Maroons’ defence problems.
The Blues fullback for the first two Origin games, Panthers skipper Moylan has been linked to a Darren Lockyer-like move from fullback to five-eighth for his club. Panthers five-eighth Te Maire Martin revealed recently he may be moved to fullback to accommodate the change when he returns from a shoulder injury.
With a number of positions in the Blues side up for grabs next year, especially in the halves, after another series loss, Bird and Moylan can put their best foot forward in game three.
Meanwhile, Daley said the Blues’ focus was sending out retiring skipper Paul Gallen a winner in his final Origin match.
“We want to show NSW supporters that we are a pretty good footy team,” Daley said.
“We are playing for them and we are playing for Gal as well. He has been a warrior for us through some pretty bad times and it is important that we play well for him.
“He has aimed up every time he has pulled on a blue shirt and the boys appreciate that.
“They know how much this game means to him personally and it would be great if we win for him.
“If we do win it will give up some optimism for next year.”
Around 60,000 fans are expected at ANZ Stadium for game three.