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Maguire lauds Latrell impact on Blues' Origin focus

Michael Maguire has hailed Latrell Mitchell's reintegration into the NSW side as the Blues coach banks on the big-name centre to help him navigate one of the toughest challenges of his career.

Maguire has made five changes to the side which lost 38-10 in game one, but none more exciting than his decision to bring Mitchell back into the fold.

Arguably the NRL's biggest name, Mitchell has not played for NSW since 2021.

He was left out of Maguire's squad for game one, only returning to the NSW set-up when Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii was suspended for his high shot on Maroons fullback Reece Walsh in the series opener.

And Maguire will need South Sydney star Mitchell to stand tall at the MCG on Wednesday to square the ledger and send game three to a decider in Brisbane on 17 July where NSW will hope to pull off an unlikely upset.

"I've been so pleased for Latrell with the way he has come in," Maguire said from Melbourne's Federation Square on Tuesday.

"All the players have really enjoyed having him around and he's in a really good space at the moment.

"People build perception and things like that, but he's been awesome.

"He has come and been one of the boys and he's rallied around and enjoyed the camp, that's what I've enjoyed about having Latrell around.

"He has been really good at training and he's got a lot of experience in this space, he has played at the highest level and we've leant on those stories around the group."

Maguire revealed Mitchell is locked in a two-way battle with St George Illawarra winger Zac Lomax to assume the goalkicking duties for the Blues on Wednesday.

Lomax has a 79 per cent strike rate to Mitchell's 72 per cent at NRL level in 2024.

As well as the return of Mitchell, Maguire has also entrusted Mitchell Moses to be the steadying hand the Blues lacked in game one.

The Parramatta No.7 has been parachuted in to replace Nicho Hynes.

Despite struggling to recapture his best form since returning from a two-month lay-off with a foot injury, Moses is being backed by Maguire to show the sparkle that makes him one of the NRL's most-creative playmakers.

"Mitch played in that last game last year and I think he took a lot of confidence out of that one with how he steered the team around," Maguire said.

"He's been very strong and I've had a lot of conversations with him, he's been close and always been a part of my thoughts.

"He has added a lot to this team and all those players I've brought in have brought experience and that will be a real positive for us."