Despite his team having a dismal year, Dragons captain Cameron McInnes has been rewarded for his standout form with inclusion in NSW's 27-man extended Origin squad for the end-of-year series.
McInnes was the only member of five players announced on Sunday who has not featured previously for the Blues, indicating finals form and recent game time is a priority for coach Brad Fittler.
The inspirational Red V captain enjoyed a hell of a Sunday, with the selection news capping a day in which he starred in his side's 30-22 defeat of Melbourne and also won the club's player of the year award.
Also named alongside McInnes was Brisbane's Payne Haas, Manly brothers Jake and Tom Trbojevic and Dragons teammate Tyson Frizell.
St George Illawarra pair Paul Vaughan and Tariq Sims are notable absentees, while backline candidates Zac Lomax and David Nofoaluma were also passed over.
Get Caught Up: Round 20
Their absence bodes well for the likes of South Sydney's Campbell Graham and Penrith's Stephen Crichton, with another 22 members of the Blues extended squad to now come from finals-bound sides.
Those that have missed out may yet come into contention pending injuries and suspensions over the next month, with fringe players to be told to keep themselves fit and ready just in case.
McInnes's NSW nod is a deserved reward for his efforts in a wretched St George Illawarra campaign that led to Paul McGregor's exit from the club with 18 months to run on his contract.
Sneak peek: The True Believers
New coach Anthony Griffin is slated to address the St George Illawarra players on Wednesday.
The eight-point win over a second-string Storm side featured the long-awaited debuts of 19-year-old half Jayden Sullivan and prop Eddie Blacker.
Sullivan in particular had his moments, setting up Frizell's second try to seal the victory, while he was also targeted, but not rattled, by Melbourne's big men.
Along with Matt Dufty, Max Feagai, Euan Aitken, Zac Lomax, Cody Ramsey and Adam Clune, Sullivan was part of a backline drawn entirely from their local Kogarah and South Coast junior bases.
For departing coach Dean Young, an Illawarra product himself and the son of legendary St George figure Craig, the Red V roots should form the basis of Griffin's rebuild.
"It was great actually, the whole backline was local juniors and that's what this club needs to be built on moving forward," Young said.
"The times that we have been successful have been built on local juniors coming through that really care about the club.
Match Highlights: Dragons v Storm
"Obviously you need to be really smart with your recruitment choices and fill in the missing pieces.
"We've got a good group of players coming through that are young, inexperienced and really eager so the fans have just got to be a bit patient with it. It's going to take time but we've got some talent here."
The opening game of the State of Origin series will be played at Adelaide Oval on November 4, with game two in Sydney at ANZ Stadium on November 11 before the series is completed in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium a week later.
NSW Blues squad
- Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos)
- Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
- Tom Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
- Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons)
- Cameron McInnes (St George Illawarra Dragons)