'Huge shame': Uproar over detail in NSW State of Origin photo

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James Tedesco, pictured here holding aloft the Origin shield with his NSW teammates.
James Tedesco holds aloft the Origin shield with his NSW teammates. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Amongst the NSW celebrations on Wednesday night as they hoisted the State of Origin shield, there was sadness that some of the stars of their series triumph weren't there to enjoy it.

The Blues were presented with the shield on the Gold Coast on Wednesday night despite losing Game III to a much-improved Queensland outfit.

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NSW sealed the series victory when they won the opening two games by a combined total of 76-6.

But as they celebrated and posed for photos with the shield on Wednesday, many fans pointed out the brutal irony that Nathan Cleary, Jerome Luai and Daniel Saifiti weren't there to take part.

Cleary, Luai and Saifiti had starred for the Blues in the opening two games but missed the series finale with respective injuries.

In years gone past the injured trio might have been in attendance for the final game of the series and on hand to celebrate the 2-1 series victory.

But with Covid-19 restrictions and the fact that all three games were played in Queensland, Cleary, Luai and Saifiti were notable absentees in the post-match celebrations.

It made for awkward scenes as Mitchell Moses and Api Koroisau - who made their debuts on Wednesday night - as well as 18th man Nicho Hynes, posed in photos with the shield despite not playing in a win.

Some fans called on the NRL to change their protocols and present the shield after the series-clinching victory.

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James Tedesco bittersweet about State of Origin triumph

Winning a State of Origin series despite having to play all three matches on enemy soil is undeniably a proud moment for NSW captain James Tedesco.

But the Blues' superstar admitted to having bittersweet thoughts about Wednesday's Game III defeat which cost his team the chance to seal a rare series sweep.

"It would have been really nice to get three wins up in Queensland and make it a clean sweep, but they're tough to do," Tedesco said.

"Obviously it hasn't been done many times and it shows it's difficult to get it done, obviously with three games in Queensland as well.

"We had a lot of things against us ... it's disappointing the way it ended but we're happy with the series win."

James Tedesco, pictured here during the trophy presentation after State of Origin Game III.
James Tedesco talks during the trophy presentation after State of Origin Game III. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The 28-year-old believes he's leading a Blues team which can go one better in 2022 and secure just the eighth whitewash in Origin history.

Despite losing Game III 20-18, the 68-point margin across the three games between the teams is the biggest in Origin history.

It's a platform Tedesco is confident his team can build on, especially after Moses and Jack Wighton had to be thrown into the halves with Penrith pair Cleary and Luai injured.

"The team we have, the squad we've got as well, we've got a lot of depth," Tedesco said.

"Obviously we're missing our two halves and we got two halves that come in and did a really good job for us.

"I think NSW is in a really good place. So that's exciting for the next few years to build our team, to have others come through and put pressure on different spots is really good."

with AAP

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