NSW Blues great Andrew Johns has cleaned slate at the centre position ahead of this year’s State of Origin series.

NSW Origin legend Andrew Johns has axed the incumbent Blues centre pairing of Clint Gutherson and Jack Wighton, with Latrell Mitchell and Zac Lomax preferred.

Gutherson and Wighton started all three games in the centres for Brad Fittler’s side that lost 2-1 to Queensland last year, but both have been displaced by Johns in a team he is picking week by week for Wide World of Sports. Johns is yet to select his halves or his bench, so either Wighton or Gutherson could still potentially bed picked in his team.

MORE: Johns bins long-held Origin selection theory

Wighton is an outside chance to be named the Blues’ five-eighth alongside Nathan Cleary, although Cody Walker and Cleary’s Panthers teammate Jarome Luai seem to be firming for the role.

Wighton, the reigning Dally M Medallist, and Gutherson also look to be outsiders for the No.14 jersey, with Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen the raging favourite to take the utility bench role.

Lomax was named in Fittler’s extended squad last year as an injury replacement for Tom Trbojevic, but this time Johns has him starting alongside Trbojevic on the Blues’ right side.

“That right side defensively, you’ve got Nathan Cleary, Zac Lomax and Trbojevic, three tough players and smart players,” Johns told Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and The Eighth.

“I love the way (Lomax) chases kicks. Zac Lomax is a player where you can throw him the ball and he’s got that big right foot step.”

Lomax’s addition also gives the Blues an added goal-kicking option, with the 21-year-old in prolific kicking form for the Dragons this season.

Fittler was also impressed with Lomax’s form as one of the outstanding performers in a Dragons side that has outdone expectation.

“He’s defended better this year, he’s been a little bit more aggressive,” Fittler told Freddy and The Eighth.

“There were some particular games where he was very good, but he’s still young. When you’re not playing in the best sides sometimes your form will drop a little bit because you just don’t get enough ball or you’re (always) defending.”

Johns’ vote of confidence for Mitchell, whose four-week suspension gives him just two weeks once he returns to audition for an Origin jersey, mirrored that of Fittler last week.

“Four weeks, that’ll be [rounds] seven, eight, nine, 10. They (Origin teams) get picked between 12 and 13,” Fittler said.

“So there’s still a couple of weeks. The key’s got to be he’s just got to stay fit. Everyone’s been very impressed with the way he’s started the season.”

Mitchell has starred for South Sydney in the fullback role, but with James Tedesco the incumbent Blues No.1, he will have to settle for the centre position he occupied in 2018 and the first game of the 2019 series.

Johns has so far picked James Tedesco at fullback, Josh Addo-Carr and Trbojevic on the wings, Mitchell and Lomax in the centres and Junior Paulo and Payne Haas as his front-rowers.

The 2021 State of Origin series will get underway on Wednesday, June 9, with game one to be played at the MCG.

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