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Saifiti, Lomax added to Blues squad but star trio dropped

Brad Fittler has added Daniel Saifiti to his squad for next month's State of Origin series while drafting in Dragons centre Zac Lomax following Tom Trbojevic's withdrawal due to shoulder damage.

But there was no room for Saifiti's Knights teammates Mitchell Pearce, who was the Blues' halfback when Nathan Cleary was injured for game three last year when NSW won the trophy with a dramatic last-minute try, and David Klemmer, along with Sharks skipper Wade Graham.

Players not selected can still be brought into the squad at a later date but Sunday's announcement indicates Cleary is a shoo-in to regain the No.7 jersey.

Graham and Klemmer have been integral parts of NSW's squads in recent years - the Cronulla second-rower returned from an ACL tear to play the last two games of the 2019 contest while the Newcastle prop also lined up in the Origin III win in Sydney which sealed back-to-back series triumphs for Fittler.

Get Caught Up: Finals Week 1

Lomax and Saifiti pair were the only names added on Sunday to the guaranteed selections for the 27-man squad, which will accumulate over the course of the NRL finals, before being finalised after the grand final on October 25.

Origin kicks off in Adelaide on November 4 before matches in Sydney and Brisbane over the course of three successive Wednesdays.

Saifiti made his Origin debut in game two last year and backed up in the series-clinching third match while Lomax is yet to play for the Blues.

"He just goes forward, he's got great offloads, he's got a quick play-the-ball, I really enjoyed him in the team last year," Fittler said.

 

BREAKING: Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler names his next two players to be a part of the 27-man squad.

Posted by NSW Blues on Sunday, 4 October 2020

"It was a real thrill of mine to tell Zac Lomax that he's part of the 27-man squad.

"His name's been tossed up pretty much all year, we've got a fair few centres at the moment that are going well and also still playing so when Tom Trbojevic went down, Zac Lomax was always going to be the shadow for Tom."

They join Dragons duo Tyson Frizell and Cameron McInnes, Manly lock Jake Trbojevic and Broncos prop Payne Haas as the only other selections thus far from the teams eliminated from the Telstra Premiership.

NSW Blues squad

  • Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos)
  • Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
  • Zac Lomax (St George Illawarra Dragons)
  • Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons)
  • Cameron McInnes (St George Illawarra Dragons)
  • Daniel Saifiti (Newcastle Knights)