With Laurie Daley having begun his changing of the guard, Jake and Tom Trbojevic and Bryce Cartwright headline a list of young stars who will come into NSW State of Origin contention in 2017.
Daley’s decision to look to the future was vindicated when the Blues snatched a 22-18 win in Wednesday night’s dead rubber at ANZ Stadium.
The likes of James Tedesco, Tyson Frizell and Matt Moylan – who were among eight NSW debutants this series – made strong statements about their representative futures.
In the centre of the park, Paul Gallen is retiring while prop James Tamou struggled for impact all series – failing to make 100m in any of the three games.
Daley will need to find room for Boyd Cordner, who was NSW’s best in game one before missing the rest of the series with a broken toe.
Cordner also shapes as one of two leading candidates for the vacant Blues captaincy, along with Tigers skipper Aaron Woods.
Manly forward Jake Trbojevic was brought into camp as a developmental player for game three and will come under consideration next year.
Andrew Fifita’s brain snap in the second half which saw him sin-binned for putting Gavin Cooper in a headlock may also count against him.
Several years ago it was thought his cards had been marked due to his ill discipline and with Penrith attacking gun Bryce Cartwright making continual improvement, especially in defence, his place could come under threat.
In the backline, Blake Ferguson was close to being dropped for game three, and had a quiet night at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday before coming up with a decisive break that led to Michael Jennings’ winning try.
Josh Dugan’s future in the side is far from certain, with Sea Eagles winger/fullback Tom Trbojevic knocking on the door while Canterbury’s Brett Morris has proved his class with seven tries in his three games back from injury.
Then there’s the Jarryd Hayne conundrum.
After failing to make the Olympics with the Fiji Rugby Sevens side, a return to the NRL is reportedly on the cards and he would be considered a walk up start for the Blues.
But with Tedesco having made such an impressive debut, Daley will have a monster selection headache if we see Hayne back in the NRL.
Gallen said he went into representative retirement feeling assured that the Blues’ future was bright.
“We blooded a lot of guys, eight debutants, 11 or 12 changes from last year and we needed to do that and Laurie’s done it gradually over the last couple of years,” Gallen said.
“This week I think the boys really started to understand what it’s all about and it was quite pleasing for myself to be honest.
“The boys got it, we played for 80 minutes and we got the win, which is what we needed to do.”
Possible NSW 2017 side: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Jack Bird, 4. Michael Jennings, 5. Tom Trbojevic, 6. James Maloney, 7. Adam Reynolds, 8. Aaron Woods (c), 9. Nathan Peats, 10. David Klemmer, 11. Wade Graham, 12. Boyd Cordner, 13. Tyson Frizell, 14. Matt Moylan, 15. Bryce Cartwright, 16. Josh Jackson, 17. Jake Trbojevic.