New South Wales drops Jarome Luai ahead of dead rubber clash with Queensland

NSW coach Brad Fittler has dumped Jarome Luai for the third game of the State of Origin series, recalled Cody Walker and handed debuts to Keaon Koloamatangi and Bradman Best as the Blues plot to avoid a series whitewash.

Key points:

  • Penrith's Jarome Luai has been dropped from the New South Wales team for State of Origin III
  • Cody Walker will return, with Keaon Koloamatangi and Bradman Best set to debut as the Blues look to avoid a whitewash
  • Queensland have made just two changes, due to suspension and injury, with Corey Horsburgh to earn his first Maroon jersey

Luai, Hudson Young, Tyson Frizell and Junior Paulo have paid the price for the Blues' hefty loss in Origin II and will not feature in the series finale on July 12 in Sydney.

Wests Tigers prop Stefano Utoikamanu, afforded only 12 minutes of game-time on debut, has also missed out.

The NRL's leader in try assists, South Sydney five-eighth Walker has beaten Luai in the battle to partner Mitch Moses in the halves.

Walker has four games of Origin experience, most recently featuring in all three matches of 2020's post-season series.

He was joined in that series by Parramatta's Clint Gutherson, who will also return to the Origin arena as Fittler's bench utility. 

With New South Wales paying dearly for their lack of versatility in the first two matches, Gutherson's ability to cover almost every position in the backline earned him a recall. 

The Blues named Nicho Hynes as a utility for Origin I but only played him for 12 minutes late on, and then deployed veteran hooker Cook as a centre in the second game after injury struck down Tom Trbojevic.

Joining Walker in the side for his maiden Blues appearance is Souths teammate Koloamatangi.

An ankle injury scuppered the back-rower's chances of earning a debut in the series opener but he was selected as 19th man for Origin II.

Best, who is fresh off a rampaging hat-trick for Newcastle in their thumping 66-0 win over Canterbury, will line up at left centre with Stephen Crichton switching to the right side. 

James Tedesco will retain his spot as fullback and captain despite concerns over his form and stiff challenges from Dylan Edwards and Scott Drinkwater in recent weeks.

Prop Payne Haas, NSW's best player in the second game of the series, has not been named after aggravating an ankle injury playing for Brisbane at the weekend.

He's been replaced at prop by the returning Jake Trbojevic, who made a comeback from a calf complaint for Manly on the weekend with Parramatta's Reagan Campbell-Gillard to start alongside him.

Campbell-Gillard has taken Eels teammate Junior Paulo's spot with the Samoan enforcer also feeling the axe. 

Cameron Murray will start at lock with Isaah Yeo dropping back to the bench while Newcastle's Jacob Saifiti will join the Penrith man on the pine. 

North Queensland's Scott Drinkwater and Spencer Leniu will act as 18th and 19th men. 

Meanwhile, Queensland have made two forced changes to their side for Game III as well as one positional switch.

AJ Brimson will replace the suspended Reece Walsh at fullback while Canberra firebrand Corey Horsburgh is into the team to fill in for the injured Tom Flegler. 

Ben Hunt will start from the bench with Harry Grant to line up at hooker in a reversal of their usual roles. 

New South Wales:
1. James Tedesco (c) (Sydney Roosters), 2. Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers), 3. Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers), 4. Bradman Best (Newcastle Knights), 5. Josh Addo-Carr (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 6. Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 7. Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), 8. Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), 9. Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Parramatta Eels), 11. Liam Martin (Penrith Panthers), 12. Keaon Koloamatangi (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 13. Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs),

14. Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers), 15. Jacob Saifiti (Newcastle Knights), 16. Reece Robson (North Queensland Cowboys), 17. Clint Gutherson (Parramatta Eels)

18. Scott Drinkwater (North Queensland Cowboys), 19. Spencer Leniu (Penrith Panthers)

1. AJ Brimson (Gold Coast Titans), 2. Xavier Coates (Melbourne Storm), 3. Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys), 4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (The Dolphins), 5. Murray Taulagi (North Queensland Cowboys), 6. Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm), 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles), 8. Reuben Cotter (North Queensland Cowboys), 9. Harry Grant (Melbourne Storm), 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Gold Coast Titans), 11. David Fifita (Gold Coast Titans), 12. Jeremiah Nanai (North Queensland Cowboys), 13. Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos)

14. Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), 15. Lindsay Collins (Sydney Roosters), 16. Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), 17. Corey Horsburgh (Canberra Raiders)

18. Tom Dearden (North Queensland Cowboys), 19. J’maine Hopgood (Parramatta Eels) 



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