Lachy MacCorquodale previews the blockbuster decider between New South Wales and Queensland. This is what we have to look forward to.
Queensland couldn’t back up from game one and came up against a New South Wales side that wasn’t prepared to hand the shield over just yet. The Maroons lost their key player Cameron Munster in the opening minute and yet still managed to score the opening try thanks to a superb finish from young winger Xavier Coates. This was as good as the night would get for the Queenslanders, as the Blues scored the next five tries as they asserted their dominance on the Munster-less Queenslanders.
Harry Grant has been given the call up to make his debut on Wednesday night: a player who was exceptional for the Wests Tigers this year and will most likely be the Queensland hooker for a long time. His inclusion could be massive as the Maroons lacked any real attacking threat once Munster left the field; when Grant and Munster both combine they’ll be a real threat against the Blues’ defence.
New South Wales Blues
The Blues responded in epic fashion with a big 24-point victory last Wednesday night. After plenty of criticism during the week, halfback Nathan Cleary delivered an immense performance, dominating the game with his brilliant kicking ability. Cleary’s link up with Cody Walker gave the Blues a more coherent attack compared to game one, which no doubt contributed to their impressive performance.
New South Wales will come into game three with all the confidence in the world as they try and seal their first three-peat since 2005. The changes Brad Fittler and his selection panel made for game two seemed to do the trick, and he’ll be expecting the same impact from the bench on Wednesday night at a full-house at Suncorp Stadium. If they perform as they did in game two, they’re going to be hard to stop.
There’s a few changes for the Queenslanders heading into the decider. Corey Allan comes in on the wing for Phillip Sami to make his debut. Christian Welch returns from injury, pushing Dunamis Lui to the bench and Moeaki Fotuaika out of the side. The final change involves Harry Grant coming onto the bench for Ben Hunt, with Grant making his Origin debut.
1. Valentine Holmes 2. Xavier Coates 3. Kurt Capewell 4. Dane Gagai 5. Corey Allan 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Christian Welch 9. Jake Friend 10. Josh Papalii 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 14. Harry Grant 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Jai Arrow 17. Dunamis Lui
New South Wales Blues
The Blues have named an unchanged 17 from their victory in game two. The inclusion in the reserves is Ryan Papenhuyzen, who could appear on the bench for the decider.
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Jack Wighton 4. Clint Gutherson 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cody Walker 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Payne Haas 11. Angus Crichton 12. Tyson Frizzel 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Dale Finucane 15. Junior Paulo 16. Nathan Brown 17. Isaah Yeo.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Cameron Munster/Daly Cherry-Evans vs Cody Walker/Nathan Cleary
Munster seems to be the key to Queensland’s success; once he was taken out of the match last week, his Queensland side lacked the creativity in attack that they displayed in the second half of game one. They definitely missed the number six’s brilliant kicking game, which was part of the reason behind the Maroons’ success in the opening game. His return takes pressure off his halves partner Daly Cherry-Evans, who won’t be receiving as much attention as he did on Wednesday night.
They line up against Walker and Cleary, who combined brilliantly on Wednesday night and they both complimented each other perfectly. Game three could very well come down to which side’s halves play better as they’ve been a big reason behind each state’s wins in the series. This is going to be a fascinating battle to watch and the Queensland crowd will be making their presence felt, which makes it a daunting task for Walker and Cleary; if game two was anything to go by, they’ll be more than prepared.
New South Wales to just hold out in a tight gripping contest, hopefully an Origin special.
New South Wales by two.
Date: Wednesday, November 18
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Kick-off: 7:10pm (QLD), 8:10pm (NSW)