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Fitness no issue for Graham as NSW consider Cleary replacements

Wade Graham wouldn't be drawn into suggestions that he could fill the potential void of Nathan Cleary in game three, but insists his body is ready for any challenge.

The talk of the Blues dressing sheds after game three centred around Cleary's fitness, with an ankle injury expected to rule him out of game three at ANZ Stadium on July 10.

Graham was tremendous for the Blues filling in at five-eighth in the second half of Sunday night's 38-6 shellacking of the Maroons, but out of respect for Cleary was reluctant to put his hand up for the job in the decider.

Graham is just three games back from an ACL injury, playing limited minutes in his first three outings on a football field in nine months.

However the Sharks back-rower, who came into the grade at Penrith playing in the halves, insists his lack of game time over the past 12 months won't be an issue if he is asked to play a senior role in the do-or-die match in Sydney.

"You never really plan for the unexpected, but I know that's part of my job description in these scenes," Graham said.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

"To be fair when I go into the six, my game doesn't really change all that much to the way I play as a back-rower. I'm just super grateful to be back and given an opportunity to be part of a great result like that. I don't want to jump to conclusions with Nathan. If we sat down three weeks ago and said I'd here playing Origin after my knee, we all would have had a laugh about it. I really don't want to think too far ahead.

"I'm really keen just to enjoy [the win] with my family and friends. Let's see how everyone pulls up. There's still one NRL game to be played. Fitness is not an issue. I feel good. I probably played 50 or 60 [minutes] tonight and I felt okay. The conditions played into my favour with the wet, it takes a yard of pace off everyone. I just want to enjoy right now, and I get back to work tomorrow."

Graham is one of a number of options at coach Brad Fittler's disposal should Cleary be deemed ineligible for game three.

Mitchell Pearce is the most favoured option, however injury has denied him the chance to return to the Origin arena so far this year.

The Blues could also move Jack Wighton, who has been playing five-eighth with the Raiders in 2019, to the No.6 jersey and open the door for a potential Latrell Mitchell return.

The other option for Fittler is to pick the five-eighth who started the series, South Sydney livewire Cody Walker.

Regardless of which way Fittler decides to go, you'd be brave to question his logic ahead of game three given how well his controversial selections for the match in Perth panned out.

Origin II post-match reaction

James Maloney starred in his return to the Blues side, while Tom Trbojevic was a revelation in the unfamiliar centre role.

"Last year was one of the best experiences of my life, so I just wanted to get back here," Tom Trbojevic said.

"I'm really thankful Freddie gave me an opportunity to do it having not played many minutes this year. I didn't care where I played. I felt comfortable in the centres. Obviously it's different to what. I'm used to but we all know how good Teddy is and he's got that No.1 jersey wrapped up.

"I just tried to work off him and take advantage of what he was doing. Teddy was getting a lot of space so I thought I'd push up there through the middle. Thankfully it came off a few times."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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