Jack Wighton is certain he is ready to return to centre for NSW after being caught off guard by Brad Fittler's shock call to start him in Origin I.
Fittler revealed on Monday morning that Wighton would partner Kotoni Staggs in the centres, leaving Penrith rookie Stephen Crichton to come off the bench in No.14.
Liam Martin has also been retained on the bench in the place of Tyson Frizell, while Nicho Hynes will only act as 18th man following the side's confirmation.
Wighton had travelled to Sydney from Canberra on Sunday night expecting to be left as a a reserve, with Staggs, Crichton and utility Hynes all in the squad.
The 29-year-old even approached Fittler to confirm the news when told by a reporter on Monday morning, ahead of the Blues first on-field training session at Coogee on Tuesday.
"He keeps things pretty tight-knit Freddy. I am stoked," Wighton told AAP. "It's awesome. You know your role, you've got your job and it's something you can focus on all week.
"It's good instead of coming off the bench and not knowing what you're coming on to do."
Wighton last played centre in NSW's series loss in 2020, where he missed 12 tackles in the opening two games.
He endured a difficult series opener against Dane Gagai in Adelaide, brushed aside once in the lead up to a crucial Queensland try. He will mark up against the same man next Wednesday at Accor Stadium, but insisted he is up to the challenge of defending at centre again.
"You're always learning," Wighton said.
"I had a lot of good moments, there were a couple of slip ups as well. But that's rugby league, you've just got to get back on the horse."
Wighton's recall came hours before Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was inducted into the NSWRL Hall of Fame at the True Blues dinner, along with St George's captain-coach from their premiership years Ken Kearney and long-time NSW centre Harry Wells.
Meanwhile, Fittler said Wighton had won his way into the centres off the back of two big weeks for the Raiders, on return from a dangerous-throw ban.
"He has looked fast and fresh and broke the line a lot," Fittler said.
"The [Origin] experience [was key].
"I was mindful of not putting inexperienced people together. I think that is really important.
"Given the kicking game we have seen from Cherry-Evans and Munster.
"That has been a big part of our game. I think that is sometimes where experience under conditions can help."
Meanwhile Martin's selection means there will be six Penrith players in the side, the most of any club in a NSW team since St George Illawarra in 2011.
He will be joined on the bench by Crichton, Ryan Matterson and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, with the latter playing his first Origin since his debut in 2018.
Frizell, Jacob Saifiti, Joseph Suaalii and Apisai Koroisau will all be released to play for their NRL clubs this weekend, after acting as the reserves in Fittler's initial 22-man squad.
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