Moylan The Obvious Replacement: Daley
New South Wales coach Laurie Daley says Matt Moylan's inclusion into his Origin III side was a no-brainer following Adam Reynolds' withdrawal on Wednesday afternoon.
Daley said he considered a number of candidates as replacements for Reynolds but was convinced the Penrith skipper's deserved a recall considering he "didn't deserve to be dropped" to start with.
Moylan was initially dropped from the side with Wests Tigers star James Tedesco replacing him in the NSW fullback position, but he's now been recalled for a new role after Reynolds' injury.
While conjecture remains over whether Moylan or Sharks utility Jack Bird will start at five-eighth, Daley said both will get the opportunity to partner James Maloney throughout the game despite Moylan never playing an NRL game there.
"Given he has been here and is an Origin player he's [the obvious choice]. Unfortunately we had to make the tough call of leaving Matt out of Game Three because James's form was irresistible," Daley said.
"But it gives us the opportunity to bring him back in a utility sort of role. Matty will be looking at this as a second opportunity and he'll be keen. He didn't deserve to be dropped, it was just someone else was playing better."
Daley said he hopes to make the decision over the final make-up of his squad over the weekend and said the final call on who starts in the playmaking role will come down to "who handles it best" at training.
"Jack Bird slotted in really well at training [on Wednesday morning] but again we won't make a decision as to who starts there until the weekend. I wouldn't be scared to use Matt at six though," Daley said.
"Obviously it's a little bit different position-wise but he'll get a crack at it during the game. Whether he starts or not, I'm not sure. Birdy will probably start but we'll see how it pans out."
Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce was one candidate Daley seriously considered as a straight swap for Reynolds but the coach didn't want to place him in the high-pressure game considering the year he has had.
Off-field indiscretions and a calf injury have resigned Pearce to just four NRL games this season and Daley said he wanted to protect the 15-time Blues representative.
"We did consider him but with him being only one game back, I don't want to put too much pressure on Mitch," Daley said.
"He's been the fall guy for the past few years and I don't want to put him back into that situation. It's a short preparation, short turnaround and that's just me I want to protect people."
On Reynolds' plight, Daley said playing the injured halfback in Game Three wasn't worth the risk.
While Reynolds featured in the Rabbitohs' 20-0 loss to the Cowboys over the weekend, Daley said it was worth pulling the pin now and avoid a similar situation to that which occurred in Games One and Two with Josh Dugan and Josh Morris respectively.
"It's not great for Adam that we had to make that decision. He still has a tingly feeling in his arm and we didn't want to risk going through to the weekend and wonder whether he'd be okay or not," Daley said.
"So we bit the bullet. Seeing him on the weekend, I thought he was a little bit ginger but pulled through OK. Though coming into an Origin game, you need the best preparation so as sad as it is for Adam, we had to make the decision now."
This article first appeared on NRL.com