PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 13: Jarome Luai of the Panthers is tackled during the round 18 NRL match between the Panthers and the Sharks at Panthers Stadium on July 13, 2018 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

New South Wales coach Brad Fittler is understood to be tilting towards selecting Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton ahead of Penrith star Jarome Luai for the 2021 State of Origin series opener.

As reported by The Sydney Morning HeraldLuai is seen to be out-of-favour in comparison to the 2020 Dally M medallist, with many fans believing the Panthers gun should land a starting spot in the halves alongside teammate Nathan Cleary.

With the absence of the injured Ryan Papenhuyzen set to open up a place on the interchange, Fittler is believed to opt for Luai in that role as opposed to a starting gig to make his Blues debut, with Wighton seen as the starting No.6.

The Canberra playmaker hasn't enjoyed a year as strong as his past campaign and was found to be a weakness in Fittler's 2020 system after being run through the centres alongside Clint Gutherson, while Cody Walker manned the five-eighth duties.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 04: Jack Wighton of the Blues runs onto the field during game one of the 2020 State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at the Adelaide Oval on November 04, 2020 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Fittler is likely to select either Gutherson or Latrell Mitchell to pair with Tom Trbojevic in the centres, leaving a dilemma for the halves partnership.

Cleary is set to lead the Blues to a potential redemption series this year and has risen to become arguably the NRL's best player this season, with some plaudits coming thanks to his right-hand-man Luai.

Wighton will return to the Raiders' lineup after serving his suspension and will have this weekend's clash against the Roosters to further prove his worth to Fittler, while Luai will have another audition when the Panthers face Canterbury at home on Saturday.