Best replaces Latrell as one of two NSW Origin changes

Bradman Best will be tasked with filling the Latrell Mitchell-sized hole in the NSW backline after Blues coach Michael Maguire picked the Newcastle centre for the State of Origin decider.

Best is in line for just his second Origin appearance for the Blues after Mitchell succumbed to a foot injury following South Sydney's win over Parramatta on Thursday.

The inclusion of 22-year-old Best at centre is one of two changes made by Maguire ahead of the July 17 decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Mitch Barnett comes in for Haumole Olakau'atu for his NSW debut with a view to overpowering a Queensland side who were unable to withstand the Blues' relentless forward pack in game two in Melbourne.

Mitch Barnett.
Mitch Barnett has been selected to make his NSW debut in Origin III. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

Throughout his NRL career, Barnett has shown an ability to cover both the middle of the field and the edges.

But arguably nobody has a bigger task than Best as he steps into the void left by Mitchell, who gave Queensland centre Valentine Holmes a bath at the MCG.

Best missed out on selection for game one due to injury and was locked in a four-way battle to take Mitchell's jersey before Maguire's team announcement on Sunday evening.

The Knights centre faced stiff competition from Canterbury five-eighth Matt Burton as well as Manly's Tom Trbojevic, who returned for the Sea Eagles in their golden-point win over North Queensland on Saturday.

Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii was the fourth and final option available to Maguire, but the Sydney Roosters utility back has not played a competitive game since he was sent off in the series opener for his head-high hit on Reece Walsh.

Best won his only previous NSW jersey in last year's third game when he came into a Blues side that had already lost the series.

He showed he was not overawed by the occasion, a trait that will be needed as the Blues bid to win a decider in Queensland for the first time since 2005.

"Bradman leading up before he got injured in round one was outstanding," Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien said after Sunday's 16-12 win over Canberra.

"The thing that probably works in his favour is he's been back for a while and banked some good performances.

"Winning form is good form, and he's certainly been playing very well."

Maguire will name the three members of the extended squad on Monday when he fronts the media.

Mitchell, meanwhile, will meet with a specialist over the coming days to see if he needs surgery on his foot.

Surgery would probably rule Mitchell out of playing any further part in South Sydney's season.


Dylan Edwards, Brian To'o, Stephen Crichton, Bradman Best, Zac Lomax, Jarome Luai, Mitch Moses, Jake Trbojevic (capt), Reece Robson, Payne Haas, Liam Martin, Angus Crichton, Cameron Murray. Bench: Connor Watson, Isaah Yeo, Mitchell Barnett, Spencer Leniu.