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2021 State of Origin Game Three Preview, QLD Vs NSW

Andrew Pelechaty previews the final Origin of 2021, with NSW chasing a series clean sweep. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, Date: Wednesday July 14, Time: 8:10pm

Blues Team

  1. James Tedesco
  2. Brian To’o
  3. Latrell Mitchell
  4. Tom Trbojevic
  5. Josh Addo-Carr
  6. Jack Wighton
  7. Mitchell Moses
  8. Junior Paulo
  9. Damien Cook
  10. Payne Haas
  11. Cameron Murray
  12. Tariq Sims
  13. Isaah Yeo
  14. Api Koroisau
  15. Angus Crichton
  16. Payne Haas
  17. Liam Martin
  18. Dale Finuacane
  19. Nicho Hynes
  20. Clinton Gutherson
  21. Stefano Utoikamanu

Team Changes

IN: Clinton Gutherson
Dale Finucane
Mitchell Moses
Nicho Hynes
Stefano Utoikamanu


OUT: Daniel Saifiti
Jarome Luai
Nathan Cleary

Maroons Team

  1. Kalyn Ponga
  2. Valentine Holmes
  3. Dane Gagai
  4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
  5. Xavier Coates
  6. Cameron Munster
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans
  8. Christian Welch
  9. Ben Hunt
  10. Josh Papalii
  11. Kurt Capewell
  12. Felise Kaufusi
  13. TBA
  14. Alexander Brimson
  15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
  16. Moeaki Fotuaika
  17. TBA
  18. Francis Molo
  19. Kurt Mann
  20. Thomas Flegler

Team Changes

IN: Alexander Brimson
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Kalyn Ponga
Kurt Mann
Thomas Flegler


OUT:
Andrew McCullough
Coen Hess
Kyle Feldt

Referee: Gerard Sutton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Blues

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Though this third game was meant to be at Homebush, Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown means it was been transferred to Newcastle…then, on Saturday July 10, the game was moved to Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast. It’s the first time Queensland has hosted all three Origin games in a series. While NSW deserve a triumphant homecoming infront of 90,000 Blues fans, they probably won’t mind playing on the Gold Coast after big wins at Townsville and Brisbane.

Luckily it’s a dead rubber, as NSW have been forced to make a few crucial changes through injury.

Penrith duo Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary are replaced by Canberra’s Jack Wighton (who is elevated from the bench) and Parramatta’s Mitchell Moses.

While Moses deserves his Origin debut after leading the Eels to another likely top four finish (scoring two tries and 56 goals), Wighton’s elevation is a surprise, with South Sydney duo Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker unlucky to miss out.

Wighton – the reigning Dally M winner – hasn’t backed up his sublime 2020 as his Raiders (2019 grand finalists and 2020 preliminary finalists) are floating around the middle of the table and are haunted by off-field drama. Maybe Jack will thrive on the big stage and belatedly turn his form around? Can he rein in his almost clockwork habit of kicking out on the full?

Newcastle’s Daniel Saifiti was quickly ruled out with a rib injury, with Wests Tigers debutant Stefano Utoikamanu and Eels captain Clint Gutherson joining Nicho Hynes on the extended bench.

Maroons

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Queensland – desperate to regain some pride – unleashed the Call of the Hammer, with North Queensland’s Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow debuting in the centres.

Fresh off a match-winning return for Newcastle against North Queensland in round 16, Kalyn Ponga is back at fullback.

Ponga’s Knights teammate Kurt Mann is on the extended bench (with Francis Molo and Thomas Flegler), while AJ Brimson returns on the interchange bench.

David Fifita was named on the bench, but will miss the game through suspension following his sin binning in the Titans’ huge win over Canberra in round 16.

A few days after the Dragons COVID-19 fiasco, the latest “Covidiot” Jai Arrow decided to breach the NRL biosecurity protocols and will miss Origin III and one NRL game. Along with “V’landysball” turning frustrated fans away, the minority of boneheaded players who do the wrong thing doesn’t help the NRL’s image.

PREVIEW

While this Blues team is arguably the most dominant since the 2003 to 2005 sides, this third game will show how serious they are to hammer Queensland.

Will they be content with a 2-1 series win, or will they be ruthless? The latter option could completely demoralise the Maroons and potentially set NSW up for a few years of domination.

The X Factor will be the Blues’ new halves pairing: Moses is on debut and Wighton is out of form, so NSW might need to rely more on the proven performers in James Tedesco, Brian To’o, Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic, Damien Cook etc.

KEY STAT

Like the England cricket teams in the Ashes throughout the 1990s, the Maroons love a dead rubber, with 11 wins and seven losses.

NSW have led 2-0 10 times and had three clean sweeps, while Queensland have led 2-0 eight for four clean sweeps.

There have been five dead rubbers in NSW, with Qld leading 3-2, and 13 dead rubbers in Qld, with the Maroons leading 8-5.

Queensland have won the last two of the last three dead rubbers: 18-12 in 20-18 and 32-8 in 2014. NSW won 18-14 in 2016.

PREDICTION

It doesn’t matter that this won’t be at Homebush, as NSW are in such good form that they could win on Mars. While the halves shakeup could be an issue, the Blues have more than enough class for the clean sweep.

Blues by 10.

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