Blues coach Brad Fitler has announced his team for State of Origin Game 3 — and Queensland legend Cam Smith says he’s made a mistake.
Blues coach Brad Fitler has overlooked Jack Wighton for State of Origin Game 3.
NSW on Monday morning announced a 22-man squad for the series decider at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday where Wighton was named in the No. 18 jumper.
Fitler’s selection headaches were made slightly easier this weekend with Rabbitohs star Latrell Mitchell ruling himself out.
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However, there was still enough competition for spots to keep Fitler awake at night.
In a series of tough calls, NSW has announced:
— Stephen Crichton and Matt Burton will start in the centres with Sharks wrecking ball Siosifa Talakai to take up the utility spot on the bench ahead of Wighton. It is a case of Fitler largely sticking with the same team that destroyed Queensland in Game 2 in Perth.
— Cowboys forward Jordan McLean will make his debut at the age of 30 after Broncos prop Payne Haas was ruled unavailable because of shoulder injuries. McLean has been put straight into the deep end of starting in the front row in the No. 8 jumper.
— And, Nicho Hynes, Reece Robson, Jacob Saifiti, and Clint Gutherson have been added to the extended squad.
Queensland legend Cameron Smith on Monday morning cautioned NSW about leaving Wighton out.
The Raiders playmaker was the Blues’ best player in Game 1, but missed Game 2 as a result of Covid-19.
“I would find room,” Smith said on SEN Breakfast.
“He was NSW best player in Game 1. I think the guy that will miss out will be Talakai. I think Wighton will come into the side, whether he starts or not. He might find himself on the bench to cover any spot in the backline or he can play back row.”
Blues great Matthew Johns also suggested Talakai is the unfortunate player who should miss out.
“I reckon he will be there in jersey No. 14 and they’ll pick (Matt) Burton at left centre,” Johns said of Wighton on Sunday on Fox League.
“It’s not fair and he didn’t get much of chance Talakai (in Game two) but his time will come.”
It came after Queensland announced its team for Game 3 with coach Billy Slater selecting Cowboys forward Tom Gilbert to make his debut as a result of Felise Kaufusi being ruled unavailable because of a private matter surrounding the health of his father.
NSW team for State of Origin Game 3
1. James Tedesco
2. Brian To’o,
3. Matt Burton
4. Stephen Crichton,
5. Daniel Tupou
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Jordan McLean
9. Api Koroisau
10. Jake Trbojevic
11. Cameron Murray
12. Liam Martin
13. Isaah Yeo
Interchange: 14. Damien Cook, 15. Angus Crichton, 16. Junior Paulo, 17. Siosifa Talakai.
Reserves: Jack Wighton, Nicho Hynes, Clinton Gutherson, Jacob Saifiti and Reece Robson.
Queensland team for State of Origin Game 3
1. Kalyn Ponga
2. Selwyn Cobbo
3. Valentine Holmes
4. Dane Gagai
5. Murray Taulagi
6. Cameron Munster
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Lindsay Collins
9. Ben Hunt
10. Josh Papalii
11. Kurt Capewell
12. Jeremiah Nanai
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Interchange: 14. Harry Grant, 15. Jai Arrow. 16. Patrick Carrigan, 17. Tom Gilbert
Extended squad: Thomas Flegler, Tom Dearden, Beau Fermor, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Sam Walker.
Originally published as Cam Smith warns NSW after Brad Fitler announces selection snub