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NRL: State of Origin Game 3 Preview

New South Wales coach Brad Fittler has made seven changes to his side in an attempt to avoid a State of Origin whitewash against Queensland.

The series is already done and dusted after the Maroons won the opening two games and they are the hot fancies to go on and make it 3-0.

The Blues are playing for pride and there is no such thing as a dead-rubber when it comes to State of Origin.

After being smashed 32-6 in game two, New South Wales were expected to make big changes, and they have done just that.

Even so, some of the calls that coach Brad Fittler has made have come as a surprise and only time will tell if the gamble pays off.

His own future is on the line and there is a chance he could make way after game three, no matter the result.

WhatNew South Wales v Queensland
WhereAccor Stadium, Sydney
When20:05 (AEST), Wednesday 12th July 2023
How to watchChannel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
OddsNew South Wales 2.20, Queensland 1.68

Luai gets the chop

One of the biggest surprises is the fact that Penrith Panthers playmaker Jerome Luai has been axed from the side for game three.

Luai has been a regular in the Blues side and even kept his place for game two despite his Panthers team-mate and halves partner, Nathan Cleary, being ruled out through injury.

However, Fittler has opted to make a change in the halves and has brought in the experienced Cody Walker to play alongside Mitchell Moses.

Without doubt Walker is one of the best halves in the game, but at the age of 33 he is not one for the future.

Taking that into consideration, it is clear that Fittler is focused on the here and now and is desperate to win game three, with NSW 3.40 to triumph by a margin of 1-12 points.

Hynes also misses out

Leading on from Walker’s inclusion, Nicho Hynes can think himself unlucky for not being handed a chance in the No.6 jersey.

The Cronulla Sharks star is one for the future, but has been overlooked once again. He got 10 minutes off the bench in game one, but has not figured since.

The Sharks have one of the best attacks in the NRL and Hynes is the mastermind behind it. However, the Blues have opted to go in another direction.

Best handed shock call

The inclusion of Newcastle Knights centre Bradman Best has also come as a surprise to many, as Fittler throws in another curveball.

Matt Burton was tipped to take the No.4 jersey, but the Blues have opted to go with Best instead.

The Knights star has not had an outstanding season so far, but he did score a hat-trick of tries in the 66-0 thrashing of the Bulldogs at the weekend.

That performance may have swayed Fittler, who has also overlooked the likes of Izack Tago and Will Penisini, to go with Best.

Best can be backed at 3.75 to score a try at anytime during the game.

Key men missing

Fittler has been forced to deal with a crippling injury list throughout the series and is missing key players once again.

Manly ace Tom Trbojevic is missing with the torn pectoral he suffered in game two, while Payne Haas is also out with an ankle injury.

Hudson Young, Stefano Utoikamanu, Junior Paulo and Tyson Frizell have all been left out for tactical reasons, as Fittler looks to bounce back.

It means there is room for Jacob Saifiti, Clint Gutherson and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who have all been recalled, while South Sydney back-rower Keaon Koloamatangi will also make his debut.

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