NSW coach Brad Fittler is confident the attritional nature of this year's series should open the door for Zac Lomax to get a chance to make his Origin debut.
Fittler, in Griffith on Monday for a coaching clinic, informed the Temora Dragons junior of his selection in the Blues' 27-man squad last week in an emotional exchange which was posted on social media.
The goalkicking centre was a shining light in a forgettable season for St George Illawarra, relishing his role on an edge after initially beginning the year at fullback.
He scored 13 tries in 20 games for the 12th-placed Dragons, and his utility value could be a bonus when it comes to the selection table.
Although incumbent centre Tom Trbojevic and logical replacement Kotoni Staggs have been ruled out through injury, Lomax is still behind Jack Wighton and reportedly Parramatta skipper Clint Gutherson in the pecking order.
However with the series to be played on consecutive weeks for the first time, plus the fact many players in finals will be bruised and fatigued after a long season with no breaks, Fittler expects to use more players this year.
"I reckon there'll be an opportunity somewhere in amongst the next month for Zac to have a go," Fittler said.
"I just feel the way it's designed, it's over three weeks and some blokes will be fresher than others, some will be carrying injuries.
"Over that month you just have to be ready to go. Sometimes you don't get second chances, but he seems like the type of bloke that won't miss the chance."
Young's Angus Crichton also earned a recall after a strong return to form for the Roosters this year.
The back-rower was dropped for games two and three last year after playing the previous four Origins.
"Craig Fitzibbon is on the staff of the Roosters and NSW. I'm always talking to him about what he's seeing in games, and what he's seeing in players we're looking at," Fittler said.
"The good thing about Angus is I think he was better than he was last year, and last year was better than the year before. it just shows he's listening."
Fittler confirmed Penrith back rower and Temora product Liam Martin is also in the selection mix after a super second season for the minor premiers.
Martin told The Daily Advertiser last week self belief has been his biggest improvement in his second season and felt playing big games, including this Saturday's preliminary final showdown with Souths, would help him be ready for Origin.
"What he's done up until now has got us talking about him," Fittler said.
"He seems to have a wonderful attitude, and even some stories about him on his background and how he's turned that into being a very effective player (have been impressive).
"He's someone to go to who can score tries. He's a really good player and tough, they're the sort of things you look for in Origin players."