Boyd Cordner has no regrets over the infamous night in Kings Cross that may have ended the representative career of Roosters teammate Mitchell Pearce, claiming the pair did nothing wrong.
Cordner rejoined the NSW squad in place of suspended Manly forward Anthony Watmough, one of three changes to the side that clinched the series in game two.
Newcastle winger James McManus also earned a recall to cover injured Eel William Hopoate, while Josh Morris returns in place of sidelined centre Michael Jennings.
Ready for action: Boyd Cordner. Photo: Getty Images
Cordner made a successful return from an ankle injury in the premier's grand-final rematch with Manly and did enough to impress coach Laurie Daley. The back-rower's selection also dispelled any fears his presence at an incident involving Pearce at the Beach Haus nightclub in May would also cost him his Blues jersey.
The 22-year-old was fined $5000 for his role in the night out, in which Pearce was fined and arrested for failing to leave the premises. The Dally M second-rower of the year believed he didn't act inappropriately during the notorious night out.
"I don't look back at it and regret it as [such]," Cordner said. "It was the right time to have a beer, we're allowed to have a drink. It was just a few things, obviously, on my part, I was there. My name was mentioned and everything like that, but I still don't know what I've done wrong.
"I was there getting in trouble for backing up my mate, for him getting kicked out of a nightclub. It's frustrating again because it's all dead and buried, I don't want to bring it back up. It's frustrating because when it first came out it was like he killed someone ... he didn't even touch her.
"At the end of the day, he will admit himself he should have got up and left the club when he was asked to. Then again, he was probably getting frustrated because he didn't know why he was being asked to leave in the first place. The footage and everything showed that, he didn't even touch her."
The alleged victim, Melissa Arroja, did not make a complaint to police.
However, the incident cost Pearce the opportunity to be part of the first Blues' series win in nine years and the $90,000 match payments that go with it. The premiership-winning halfback was quick to leap to Cordner's defence following the incident.
"That's the sort of bloke 'Pearcey' is and I'll stick up for Pearcey as well," Cordner said. "He probably should be playing here now. In saying that, I'm taking nothing away from the halves at the moment who have done the job, they have been unreal for the Blues.
"I suppose it is a good thing for the Roosters he is playing there, they've had a few wins on the trot throughout the Origin series. It's been good."
The Roosters were trounced by North Queensland after the incident, prompting the senior players to impose a month-long booze ban. However, that will now be reassessed.
"There's no booze ban at the moment," Cordner said.
Cordner paid tribute to the Roosters' medical staff for helping him to return ahead of schedule.
"I'm ready, I went through a pretty intensive rehab program with the Roosters and full credit to our physios and medical staff for getting me back," he said.