Indigenous Queenslanders Dane Gagai and Selwyn Cobbo have retained their places in the final lineup ahead of Brisbane following underwhelming outings in Perth.
Coach Billy Slater has kept faith in the backline partners, making just one change to the side which lost 44-12 to NSW in Perth, squaring up the State of Origin series.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has also been included in the 22-player squad for a third consecutive time.
The Torres Strait Islander was unable to force his way into a settled lineup that won the series opener in Sydney despite questions being asked of key backs.
Gagai’s last start was one of the poorest from his 21 Origin clashes since debuting in game three of the 2015 series.
The 31-year-old, who links his father’s ancestry to Yam and Badu islands in the Torres Straits, was largely ineffective in attack after gaining 38 metres with the ball in hand.
But 12 career tries from the centre on the big stage ahead of the 2022 decider on June 13 was enough for Slater to give Gagai the nod.
The Newcastle recruit had scored one of the Maroons’ three tries in their opening 16-12 win in Sydney.
Cobbo was found out in game two in the 20-year-old’s second Origin appearance.
After a spectacular attempt in the corner to score the match’s opening try, the Wakka Wakka man dropped high bombs and had Blues’ runners finding space on his edge.
Edrick Lee was the only notable name missing from Queensland selection on the back of a new club record of five tries for Newcastle.
The biggest name watching from the stands for New South Wales is Latrell Mitchell.
The Birrbay and Wiradjuri man put a line through his own name before coach Brad Fittler could do so since returning for the first time for South Sydney at the weekend after three months on the sidelines.
Jack Wighton returns from COVID-19 protocols that kept the Canberra five-eighth out from the Blues’ victory.
But the Wiradjuri man has been relegated from the interchange bench to the reserve.
That has placed utility back Nicho Hynes as 19th man after waiting in anticipation across 160 minutes for an injury in the first two games.
- Story by Andrew Mathieson