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NSW coach Ricky Stuart admits it was a tough call to select Brett Stewart at fullback for the rugby league State of Origin opener in Melbourne ahead of Josh Dugan and Anthony Minichiello.
The Manly star returns to the Blues for the first time in four years, having been ravaged by injury over the past three seasons, but his form edged him in front of Minichiello and Dugan who played in last year's series.
Dugan impressed in game one in Brisbane, but injury forced him out of the games two and three, where Minichiello proved to be an able deputy.
Stuart said it was good to have so many quality options available to him in such a key position.
"They're the type of decisions you want to make," Stuart said at announcement of his 17-man squad in Sydney on Sunday.
"It's tough for a coach to lean one way, but it's healthy to have that depth.
"What Josh Dugan and Anthony Minichiello did at Origin last year was a credit to their own character and performance. Now Brett Stewart has that chance."
Stuart chose resurgent five-eighth Todd Carney for the first time after his guiding role in Cronulla's storming start to the season which has yielded seven successive wins, including Sunday's victory over NRL leaders Melbourne. He praised NSW and Cronulla captain Paul Gallen for his role in helping turn Carney's career around.
"He (Carney) is doing great for Cronulla and Paul Gallen has been great for him," Stuart said.
"He's put his neck out and helped him get back to playing his best football."
Stuart also recalled Robbie Farah at hooker for the first time since 2009, and will give debuts to North Queensland prop James Tamou and Manly pair Jamie Buhrer and Tony Williams.
He will name the team in positional order on Tuesday following Monday's match between St George Illawarra and Penrith where several of his players are involved.
The Queensland team will be named on Monday and the match will be played on Wednesday week.
NSW team (in expected positions): Brett Stewart, Akuila Uate, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Jarryd Hayne, Todd Carney, Mitchell Pearce, Paul Gallen, Robbie Farah, James Tamou, Luke Lewis, Glenn Stewart, Greg Bird. Interchange: Trent Merrin, Tony Williams, Jamie Buhrer, Ben Creagh.