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Utility value: Blues keep options open for Origin III squad

Ryan Papenhuyzen, Cameron McInnes or Jarome Luai could make their Origin debut as a bench utility in Wednesday's decider at Suncorp Stadium after being named in the NSW reserves behind an unchanged 17.

Raiders winger Nick Cotric is also in the 21 on standby for Josh Addo-Carr, who injured a toe in game two but who is expected to be fit for game three.

Blues coach Brad Fittler has hinted several times since the 34-10 game two win that not carrying a utility was a risk the team probably couldn't afford again, and having now included three of them in the 21, he will give himself and the coaching staff until Tuesday to decide if one will force their way into the 17.

Papenhuyzen was unavailable for the first two games after injuring a calf in the Storm's grand final win but has trained this week and offers a speedy threat off the bench if the Blues opt to go that way.

"You don't want to anticipate someone getting hurt but you need to be able to cover everyone," Fittler said on Thursday as he confirmed Papenhuyzen was fit for selection.

"He's just so fast. Wouldn't you love to be that fast? It'd feel awesome," Fittler laughed.

McInnes was the frame for game two up until almost kick-off after Damien Cook was released from hospital on Tuesday having spent the night there due to a boil on his leg.

Luai would be very much the bolter and only really covers the halves, though Fittler praised the energy the young Panthers – Luai and Stephen Crichton – brought into camp.

"I'm so happy when I see those [Penrith] lads come in. Penrith's OK. They're good kids, they go out hard," he said.

If a utility does force their way into the side, it would be an unlucky blow for one of the NSW bench forwards, each of whom was strong in game two.

The most likely casualty would be Nathan Brown, who was given 15 minutes in the middle then brought on for the final three minutes at hooker, but was impressive while on the field.

It is unlikely to be Panthers lock Isaah Yeo who would make way after his eye-catching 40 minutes off the bench in game two. Fittler has previously said Yeo is in the squad as a utility forward who can cover middle and edge despite him playing in the No.13 all year for Penrith.

It was that utility value that got him onto the field initially after Tyson Frizell was sent for a HIA.

"It helps in a squad where there is so much talent I'm fortunate enough to be able to play a couple of roles and I think I showed that," Yeo said.

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"I came on as a back-rower then moved into the middle.

"It was unreal, it's something you grow up watching and one day dream hopefully you can play there and I was fortunate enough to do that."

Yeo also praised the dominant game-two efforts of clubmate Nathan Cleary.

"Everyone's got an opinion in the media at the moment, after the first game. I think he really silenced those, I think he was our best player and led us around really well," Yeo added.

 

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