Game 3 of the 2016 State of Origin series returns to Sydney with nothing to play for but pride, as the Queensland Maroons were able to clinch their 10th series win in 11 years with a 26-16 victory at Suncorp Stadium in Game two. Fullback James Tedesco has finally been gifted his long-awaited State of Origin debut for the Blues, while either Jack Bird or Matt Moylan will play in the halves following Adam Reynold’s withdrawal, with the other to play off the bench. Wade Graham will also make his first appearance in the sky blue jersey, after his Origin debut in game 2 was delayed due to suspension. Queensland have had some withdrawals, with Michael Morgan to miss the clash due to the leg injury that he suffered in game 2. His Cowboys team mate Gavin Cooper will make his Origin debut at the ripe age of 30, after coming agonisingly close in previous years. Nate Myles will return after missing game 2 with injury, while Josh Papalii has also had to miss the clash.

Last Time Out
The Maroons once again cemented their place in Rugby League history, putting on a clinical performance to secure the 2016 series in front of 52,293 Queenslander’s. The match was a far better spectacle than game 1, with both sides displaying enterprising attack and hard hitting defence. Length of the field intercept tries for both Dane Gagai and James Maloney had fans from both sides of the border on their feet. Gagai claimed the first try of the night after pouncing on a loose Blues offload and racing the length of the field to score, despite an exceptional chase from Blues backrower Tyson Frizell, who created a special Origin moment in his debut match. Gagai went on to add another 2 tries to complete his hat trick, crossing in the 32nd, 47th and 63rd minute.

Maloney’s intercept try in the 67th minute gave the Blues fans hope for victory, with the game there for the taking at 20-16. However, as they have on countless times over the past 11 years, Queensland’s big guns stepped up to the task, with the brilliance of Jonathan Thurston and Darius Boyd handing Corey Oates the series winning try on a platter. With 73 minutes on the clock and the Blues just a converted try away from stealing the lead, Thurston came up with an amazing play on the left hand side, showing the ball on his inside before popping a no look pass out the back to Boyd, who emerged from no where due to the brilliance of Queensland’s decoy runners. Boyd then summed up the situation, and cooly sucked Blake Ferguson in before passing to Oates, who leaped over in the corner to steal victory.

Jack Bird was very strong in his first Origin game, providing a significant spark from the bench. Frizell was also brilliant in his debut, and after being promoted to the starting side pre-match, he made the most of his opportunities. The barnstorming backrower claimed NSW’s first try of the night when he charged onto an Adam Reynolds offload, and he has been rewarded for his strong showing with a place in the side for Game 3.

Key Battle
Fans and legends alike have been calling for Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco’s Origin debut for a long time, and the speedster will finally get his chance on Wednesday night, without the pressure of the series hanging in the balance. The attacking weapon will be hoping to showcase all of his talents and make the number 1 jersey his own for the 2017 series, however he is faced with the challenge of taking on the worlds best fullback, Darius Boyd. Boyd has been on fire in 2016, and has excelled in his first two appearances in the fullback position for Queensland. With Billy Slater expected to be back on the field in 2017, this could be Boyd’s last chance to make the number 1 jersey his own. Both players have plenty to prove personally, and the winner of this key match up could go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the match, with the two more than capable of changing the game for their sides.

Prediction
The Blues have named arguably their strongest side of the series and in front of a home crowd in Sydney, they will be desperate to avoid the embarrassment of a clean sweep. However, they could struggle for direction, with either fullback Matt Moylan or centre Jack Bird to play at five-eight alongside James Maloney. It’s hard to see the Blues upstaging the Queensland juggernaut with a makeshift halves pairing, and Jonathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk will be good enough to guide their side to another origin win.

Queensland by 6

Squad

NSW Blues
1.James Tedesco 2.Blake Ferguson 3.Josh Dugan 4.Michael Jennings 5.Josh Mansour 6.Jack Bird 7.James Maloney 8.Paul Gallen 9.Robbie Farah 10.Aaron Woods 11.Wade Graham 12.Josh Jackson 13.Tyson Frizell 14.Matt Moylan 15.David Klemmer 16.Andrew Fifita 17.James Tamou

Queensland Maroons
1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Greg Inglis 4. Justin O’Neill 5. Dane Gagai 6. Johnathan Thurston 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Matthew Scott 9. Cameron Smith 10. Josh McGuire 11. Matt Gillett 12. Sam Thaiday 13. Corey Parker Interchange 14. Nate Myles 15. Jacob Lillyman 16. Aidan Guerra 17. Gavin Cooper