New South Wales have a chance to create history.
A chance to create history is one the cards for the Blues as they could become the first New South Wales side in Origin history to win all three games in Queensland whilst also being the first side to complete a series clean sweep over their rivals since 2000.
Given those circumstances, you can imagine that will be plenty of motivation for the Maroons, but it will mean doing something they have not been able to do all series and that is contain their opponent’s elite attacking prowess whilst trying to put life into their own. Over the course of two games, Brad Fittler’s men have been on a tear and hold a 70-point advantage over their opponents on top of holding the Maroons to one try throughout the whole series.
There is some relief for Paul Green’s side as the Blues will be without Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai due to injury, but the new combo of Jack Wighton and Mitch Moses could still cause plenty of disruption. If anyone can rock the boat for Queensland though it would be Kalyn Ponga whose return can certainly inject plenty of flair and creativity into a struggling backline.
New South Wales: Tedesco, To’o, Mitchell, T Trbojevic, Addo-Carr, Wighton, Moses, Paulo, Cook, Finucane, Murray, Sims, Yeo, Koroisau, Crichton, Haas, Martin, Hynes, Gutherson, Utoikamanu.
Queensland: Ponga, Holmes, Gagai, Tabuai-Fidow, Coates, Munster, Cherry-Evans, Welch, Hunt, Papalii, Capewell, Kaufusi, Arrow, Brimson, Fa’asuamaleaui, Fotuaika, Fifita, Molo, Mann, Flegler.
New South Wales go with a new halves pairing as Wighton and Moses come in to replace Luai (knee) and Cleary (shoulder). Dale Finucane replaces Daniel Saifiti (ribs) in the starting front-row while Api Koroisau is set to make his Origin debut off the bench. The trio of Clint Gutherson, Nicho Hynes and Stefano Utoikamanu have also been added to the 20-man squad.
Despite being named to start at loose forward for Queensland, Jai Arrow has been suspended for game three after being said to breach COVID-19 biosecurity protocols, so Paul Green has promoted Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to the starting side while Thomas Flegler moves to the bench. David Fifita also misses out due to suspension with Francis Molo taking his spot on the interchange. Kalyn Ponga’s return at full-back provides a big boost to the Maroons while Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will make his Origin debut at centre. AJ Brimson also makes a return and will start on the bench while Ben Hunt is the new man at hooker with Andrew McCullough dropping out altogether.
Players to watch
The way New South Wales have gone this series you can make an argument that most of the side should be worth keeping an eye on. However, if we were to nail it down to one, then debutant Mitch Moses might just be the guy to watch out for. The 26-year-old takes up the half-back role and has proven many times at Parramatta that he has all the tools necessary to handle the Origin arena and the pressure that comes with it with his exceptional kicking ability and playmaking his biggest traits.
For Queensland, another debutant may just prove to be key and that is speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. The 19-year-old has been a revelation since making his debut for North Queensland last season and looks to have a bright future ahead of him with his electric pace and ability to play at full-back, wing and centre proving to be big assets.
A superstar full-back showdown between the Blues’ James Tedesco and the Maroons’ Kalyn Ponga has to be one of the most eye-catching battles the game three has to offer. Both players are arguably two of the best players in the sport, showcasing elite attacking qualities that allow to turn any game on its head.
Where and when?
Wednesday, July 14 (11:10am UK time)
Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast