Panthers five-eighth James Maloney is back in the NSW State of Origin team for next week’s do or die battle with Queensland in Perth.
Maloney has been named alongside Panthers teammate Nathan Cleary in the halves for the clash at Optus Stadium.
The 33-year-old was overlooked for selection in the opening game of the series despite helping NSW to victory last year.
With Cody Walker failing to fire in the #6 jersey, Blues coach Brad Fittler has opted to re-unite Maloney and Cleary in an effort to save the series.
Newcastle’s Mitchell Pearce was also being considered to partner Cleary but was ruled out of selection contention due to injury.
Maloney has played his two best games of the season in the past fortnight, starring in Penrith’s win over the Roosters last weekend and kicking the winning field goal in the side’s 19-18 victory over Souths last night.
In a shock move, Fittler has dumped Roosters star Latrell Mitchell for the game in Perth, naming Tom Trbojevic and Jack Wighton in the centres.
BLUES TEAM FOR ORIGIN II
1 James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters)
2 Blake Ferguson (Parramatta Eels)
3 Tom Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
4 Jack Wighton (Canberra Raiders)
5 Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm)
6 James Maloney (Penrith Panthers)
7 Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
8 Daniel Saifiti (Newcastle Knights)
9 Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
10 Paul Vaughan (St George Illawarra Dragons)
11 Boyd Cordner (c) (Sydney Roosters)
12 Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons)
13 Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
14 Dale Finucane (Melbourne Storm)
15 Tariq Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons)
16 Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
17 Wade Graham (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.