A series clean sweep is on the line for the NSW Blues as they take on the QLD Maroons at Suncorp Stadium.
Freddy Fittler and his youthful Blues side became just the 2nd side in 13 years to taste a series victory over the Maroons. However few of them are going to be prepared for the hostility that awaits them up in Brisbane.
The atmosphere of an Origin game at Lang Park is completely foreign to most of them. For a side playing for pride and the chance to send Slater out a winner, the Maroons are going to receive an extra boost from the crowd.
The Maroons have performed well this series. Criticism over Wallace, Chambers and Hunt has it’s merits but they’ve matched it with the Blues. Game II finished at 3 tries all with goal-kicking proving to be the ultimate difference.
Game II itself demonstrated the difference of this Blues side to the failures of years past. They went down 10-0 early in the game but fought back to take the lead at half-time. When James Roberts was sin-binned late in the game they came together and held on to secure the series victory.
With captain Greg Inglis out with a broken thumb, Gagai shifts to centre. Corey Oates earns a recall on the wing.
After the media declared him dead to QLD, Daly Cherry-Evans returns to the halfback role with Ben Hunt shifting to the utility role in Kalyn Ponga’s place.
Jai Arrow has been rewarded for a strong series with a move to the starting side in the front row as does Josh Papalii. Jarrod Wallace moves to the bench while Dylan Napa is out with an ankle injury. Tim Glasby takes the final spot on the interchange.
Matt Prior departs after his debut game. Paul Vaughan replaces him in the starting side. Tariq Sims makes a long-awaited debut on the bench.
With Boyd Cordner in doubt, Sims is a chance to take his position in the left back-row. That would see Ryan James finally earn a spot in the team.
Latrell Mitchell vs Will Chambers.
Chambers is the incumbent Australian centre and to date he has been flat-out embarrassed by Mitchell in this series. Chambers has found himself being dragged over the side and falling off tackles constantly. Latrell and Addo-Carr have also combined for 4 tries down Chambers and Gagai’s edge.
His spot in the Kangaroos side is now in trouble and so Chambers is going to look to get one back on Latrell for pride. If he’s been able to adapt and learn what to do to shut Mitchell down, Chambers can nullify NSW’s left side attack which they favour.
Daly Cherry-Evans. For years the rumour mills had him as persona non grata to the Maroons side. Whether true or not, QLD wanted an experienced half in big moments for Game III and that’s what they’ll get with DCE.
With Hunt being made the scapegoat for the series loss, there’ll be pressure on DCE to deliver where Hunt couldn’t. His kicking game is going to have to be pinpoint and his game management impeccable. It might be his last chance to impress and stake a claim to owning the 7 jersey.
For the Blues James Maloney is the man to guide the young side to a victory and is in line to take the captaincy if Cordner is unable to play. He handles pressure better than nearly anyone else in the comp. In the hostile environment of Lang Park, there’ll be no better time for him to use that to set an example for the team.
1. Billy Slater (c) (Melbourne Storm)
2. Valentine Holmes (Cronulla Sharks)
3. Dane Gagai (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
4. Will Chambers (Melbourne Storm)
5. Corey Oates (Brisbane Broncos)
6. Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm)
7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles)
8. Jai Arrow (Gold Coast Titans)
9. Andrew McCullough (Brisbane Broncos)
10. Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders)
11. Gavin Cooper (North Queensland Cowboys)
12. Felise Kaufusi (Melbourne Storm)
13. Josh McGuire (Brisbane Broncos)
14. Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons)
15. Jarrod Wallace (Gold Coast Titans)
16. Coen Hess (North Queensland Cowboys)
17. Tim Glasby (Melbourne Storm)
18. Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters)
1. James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters)
2. Tom Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
3. Latrell Mitchell (Sydney Roosters)
4. James Roberts (Brisbane Broncos)
5. Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm)
6. James Maloney (Penrith Panthers)
7. Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
8. David Klemmer (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
9. Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
10. Paul Vaughan (St George Illawarra Dragons)
11. Boyd Cordner (c) (Sydney Roosters)
12. Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons)
13. Jack de Belin (St George Illawarra Dragons)
14. Tariq Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons)
15. Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
16. Angus Crichton (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
17. Tyrone Peachey (Penrith Panthers)
18. Ryan James (Gold Coast Titans)
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Wednesday July 11th
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
WHO WILL WIN?