Words Phil Gould used to inspire Blues

Speaking with long-time Balmain, NSW and Australia teammate Steve 'Blocker' Roach for the New South Wales Rugby League's 'Turn Back Time' series, Elias opens up on the difficulty of breaking into rugby league as a diminutive youngster of ethnic background in the early 1980s and the coaches who influenced his career along the way.

Merrin opens up on shock Origin dumping

Merrin – a veteran of 13 Origins for New South Wales – was overlooked for the series opener at the beginning of the month. 

The 26-year-old was told by coach Laurie Daley the Blues were "heading in a different direction" this series by initially naming big men James Tamou, Andrew Fifita and David Klemmer on the interchange. 

Merrin's Origin dumping became a harsher reality when Daley chose to bring Tyson Frizell in for his debut on Wednesday night following Wade Graham's suspension. 

Morris out of Origin, Jack Bird onto bench

Dylan Walker will start in the centres, with Cronulla's Jack Bird to make his Blues debut off the bench.

Morris suffered a groin injury in a training run on Thursday, underwent intense rehabilitation on the team's day off on Friday before looking to prove his fitness on Saturday.

"It was my call. It's about putting the team first," Morris said on Saturday.

"I don't want to go in there and give a poor performance in a Blues jersey because of an injury.

Graham will be back: Bird

Bird – who missed the entire 2015 Origin series due a lifting tackle in the May Trans Tasman Test – knows better than most the disappointment Graham will be feeling but said he had already thrown some encouragement the way of the Sharks back-rower.

"It's disappointing but at the end of the day you can't do anything about it. You've just got to get rid of it from your thoughts and just focus on enjoying his time while he's in camp and getting back here when he gets his next opportunity," Bird said.

Blues embrace 'brick wall' Frizell

However centre Michael Jennings has praised the man brought into the squad to replace him in Dragons forward Tyson Frizell.

Graham was unable to beat the charge arising from an awkward tackle on Cowboys playmaker Johnathan Thurston at the judiciary on Wednesday night. Loading and carry-overs from a separate incident last year pushed him just over the 100-point threshold meaning he misses one game – cruelly, it lines up with what was to be his Origin debut next Wednesday night.

Morris boosted by full week for Origin II

Morris was perhaps surprisingly dropped  ahead of Game One but was still called into camp as a shadow player for Josh Dugan, who was under an injury cloud due to his elbow – an injury which eventually forced his late withdrawal after flaring up at training.

Morris said a smoother preparation this time around will be a big boost.

Ryan James Origin-ready says Bird

James was the one who powered over the line to put his side in front in the 13th minute and it was James again pushing through trying to get to South Sydney half Adam Reynolds in the 85th minute when he was obstructed by Nathan Brown which saw the successful field goal over-turned.

He has been talked about as a future Origin representative since coming into the NRL as an 18-year-old front-rower in 2010 but with the injury to Roosters back-rower Boyd Cordner Bird believes his time has come.

Late NSW change 'not ideal': Daley

Dugan was expected to line up at centre in what would have been a mouth-watering head-to-head contest with Queensland's attacking weapon Greg Inglis.

Instead, the 2015 Brad Fittler Medallist will miss Game One on Wednesday night after aggravating an elbow injury he suffered in the Dragons' Round 11 loss to the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium. 

Daley said the news was surprising given how well the 26-year-old had been training at the side's Coffs Harbour base, but appreciated Dugan's decision to not put the team's balance at risk. 

Josh Morris to replace Dugan for NSW

Morris has been released by Canterbury after earlier being named to play in the Bulldogs' NRL clash with Canberra on Sunday afternoon.

NSW coach Laurie Daley confirmed Morris would return to take over at right centre shortly after the Blues announced the withdrawal of Dugan, who experienced further problems with the elbow he hyper-extended in St George Illawarra's loss to South Sydney in round 10.

"It's one of the hardest decisions I've had to make," said Dugan.

Kicking game to drive Blues home

The cry came from a Blues teammate as new halfback Adam Reynolds, from 30 metres out, stabbed a kick towards the in-goal of the Novotel Pacific Bay Resort training field literally minutes into the Blues' first training run of the camp, on Wednesday afternoon.

The Steeden jagged past the try-line, popped up off its point then stopped dead perhaps a metre from the dead ball line and a metre inside the touch in goal line, drawing raucous cheers from the players riding the play or perhaps jeering the naysayer (from the volume, we'll assume it was Andrew Fifita).