Mitch Moses will make his State of Origin debut after NSW coach Brad Fittler opted to partner him with Jack Wighton for Game III next Wednesday.
Fittler on Sunday told Moses he had won the race for Nathan Cleary’s vacant jersey, beating South Sydney half Adam Reynolds for the spot.
Api Koroisau will debut on the bench in place of Wighton, as the Blues aim to claim their first series whitewash in 21 years.
Jake Trbojevic has not been named as he battles to come back from a glute injury, while Nicho Hynes has been added to the squad as a reserve.
Moses’ selection comes after he first worked with Fittler in the 2017 World Cup for Lebanon, prompting to coach to afterwards describe him as “designed for State of Origin”.
He has since matured significantly, becoming a much more patient player while still setting up 21 tries in 16 games this year for Parramatta.
“He deserves it. He has been wanting to get the jersey for a long time,” NSW captain James Tedesco told Fox League.
“He’s just got to keep it simple. The role he plays at Parramatta, his kicking game wins the games for them.
“There is no pressure on him in this game as well. He can just go out and play some footy. If you look at the team he doesn’t have to do too much.”
Moses’ selection alongside Wighton means NSW will have two players starting for the first time in the halves in Origin since 2014.
Wighton’s promotion comes as a reward for the Dally M Medallist, after he had limited game time at No.14 in the opening two wins.
But the knee injury sustained by Jarome Luai has opened up the door for him to return to the starting side, after playing in the centres last year.
The tried-and-tested option would have been to partner Reynolds and Cody Walker, after they again starred for South Sydney against Wests Tigers on Sunday.
Walker played all three games for the Blues last year, while Reynolds played the last of his two Origins in 2016.
But even Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett backed a move to look to the future with Moses.
“It’s a difficult one because they’ve won the series, but they won’t want to lose the third game,” Bennett said.
“But at the same time they might see if a bit of an opportunity to play a couple of younger guys there and are going to have more time for NSW.
“That’s what I would be doing.
“Because while you want to win the next game you also have to keep an eye on going forward for next year and combinations.”
NSW TEAM FOR STATE OF ORIGIN III:
James Tedesco (capt), Brian To’o, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic, Josh Addo-Carr, Jack Wighton, Mitch Moses,, Daniel Saifiti, Damien Cook, Junio Paulo, Cameron Murray, Tariq Sims, Isaah Yeo. Bench: Api Koroisau, Angus Crichton, Payne Haas, Liam Martin. Reserves: Dale Finucane, Nicho Hynes.