NSW name squad for Origin III
Tariq Sims has been handed a NSW Origin debut that has been seven years in the making as the Blues prepare to sweat on Boyd Cordner's calf injury for the next week.
Sims is the only change to Brad Fittler's victorious game two side, coming onto the bench in place of Cronulla's Matt Prior for next Wednesday's dead rubber at Suncorp Stadium.
Dragons teammate Paul Vaughan has been elevated to the starting side with Ryan James named as 18th man and Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary the other shadow player.
Sims had filled the same 18th man duties for games one and two having first pushed for Blues selection in 2012, only for him to break the same leg on two separate occasions. Those setbacks de-railed his Origin dream and threatened his career.
The 28-year-old was told to expect good news after turning out for St George Illawarra last week but only had his debut confirmed on Monday morning.
"To hear my name getting read out in the bench spot was pretty surreal, so very, very happy, actually can't wait to tell my family that I'm 100 percent playing now," Sims said.
"I'm someone that likes to play with a lot of pride and passion and wear my heart on my sleeve.
"One of the hardest things is to get yourself physically and mentally ready for a game and then to warm up and then get told to hit the showers and get changed and sit back and watch the boys where you sort of just want to be out there and helping them.
"I've loved my time helping the boys prepare and I'm lucky enough to get a crack now."
Meanwhile, Cordner will be given up until game day next week to prove his fitness, with the tough back-rower gunning to become just the first man to skipper a 3-0 Blues whitewash since Fittler did so 18 years ago.
More will be known about Cordner's injury when the Blues complete a medical on Monday afternoon after going into camp in Coogee.
Should Cordner be ruled out, Sims would shift to his left-edge role with James coming into the side as a middle forward, however, the NSW captain is confident of taking his place against Queensland.
Cordner sat out the Roosters' recent loss to Melbourne having suffered a heavy concussion in the dying stages of Origin II, and revealed that the same calf injury had troubled him leading into the Blues last-start win.
"Early on in the game I felt it wasn't 100 per cent but it was good enough to get through the game with adrenaline and everything," Cordner said.
"I've had a bit of time now since then, obviously I wouldn't have the played the (Roosters round 16) game in Adelaide from the head knock anyway.
"It was a good chance to rest it up and get it treated on and it feels really good. I'll probably be sweet to do most of training throughout the week.
"I don't think our first big session is until Thursday, so there's still a lot of time. It feels good, I think I'll be right."
NSW Blues squad
1. James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters)
2. Tom Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
3. Latrell Mitchell (Sydney Roosters)
4. James Roberts (Brisbane Broncos)
5. Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm)
6. James Maloney (Penrith Panthers)
7. Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
8. David Klemmer (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
9. Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
10. Paul Vaughan (St George Illawarra Dragons)
11. Boyd Cordner (c) (Sydney Roosters)
12. Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons)
13. Jack de Belin (St George Illawarra Dragons)
14. Tariq Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons)
15. Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
16. Angus Crichton (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
17. Tyrone Peachey (Penrith Panthers)
18. Ryan James (Gold Coast Titans)
Luke Keary (Sydney Roosters)
Matt Prior (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
Coach: Brad Fittler
Origin at Suncorp, there's nothing like it! Game III tickets available here