After a dominant win in game two from New South Wales the series goes to the all important decider in Sydney.
It is home turf for the Blues and they will no doubt look to capitalise on this just like Queensland did in game one. A hectic and surprising series has forced both sets of coaches to make major changes throughout due to injuries and form and it looks to be the same case here.
The injury to Nathan Cleary means that Blues coach Brad Fittler has called up Newcastle halfback Mitchell Pearce to the starting squad and he will be able to add even more experience in the NSW halves alongside James Maloney who was on top form in the Blues game two win.
Looking at their Queensland counterparts the injury to Kalyn Ponga means that coach Kevin Walters has had to make some big changes with Cameron Munster being named at fullback and Corey Norman being called up to partner Daly Cherry Evans in the halves in an interesting turn of events.
Just like in the build up to the last game, Fittler’s selections were not without its surprises either as the Blues coach left out star prop David Klemmer from his original squad, a shock move especially when you look at the Newcastle’s forward’s display from game one. However, the ban to Tariq Sims means that Klemmer will take his place in the squad but whether he starts or not remains to be seen.
In every sense, Fittler’s reshuffle of the backline for game two proved to be the masterstroke his side were looking for and once again they will host a a combo of players that possess all the power and creativity in that backline to make life difficult for the Maroons.
The connection of James Tedesco, Blake Ferguson, Tom Trbojevic, Jack Wighton and Josh Addo Carr in the end proved too much for Queensland to handle in Perth.
This is a different and new era now for Queensland as for so long there was always a Lewis, a Lockyer, a Thurston, an Inglis or a Smith who could turn a game on its head in the Maroons favour. But they still have plenty of exceptional talent who have all the skill and means to.
The quality is there in the backs but the forwards will have to lay a solid foundation if they want to take the spoils. The likes of Josh Papalii, Josh McGuire and Joe Ofahengaue will need to lay a platform if Corey Norman, Daly Cherry Evans and Cameron Munster want to work their magic.
Who will take this year’s bragging rights? Will NSW retain or will Queensland be able to add to an already established Origin dynasty of the last 15 years? It is crunch time, it is game three and it is Origin and what more could you ask for.
Key match up
Throughout the course of the series there has been so many potential battles to keep a close eye on, with each one being pinnacle to their teams success in their own way.
The match up of the night could be the hooker battle between Damien Cook and Ben Hunt, both of whom will try to make quick plays of the ball to to get their team into a decent position. Over the course of the first two games, Cook has been instrumental for the Blues with his ability to create opportunities, read the game and place his team on the front foot and this was fully on show in the first half of game one and throughout the match up in Perth last time out. The Maroons will need Hunt to step up the plate here and put forth a more measured and controlled performance as the 29-year-old has not been on top form in the series but now the stage is set for the Dragons man to make his mark.
NSW player to watch
Plenty of names to look at here but after his remarkable return for the Blues in game two you could probably look no further than Tom Trbojevic. Despite missing out a good chunk of the season due to a recurring hamstring issue the Sea Eagles centre looks to be back to doing what he does best as he was one of the stars of the show in Perth.
The 22-year-old took his opponents to the sword with a phenomenal hat trick that secured New South Wales an emphatic win. The emphasis will undoubtedly be on Tommy turbo to take his chances again and conjure those jaw dropping pieces of play that we have witnessed in his past performances. The younger Trbojevic brother now has the prime opportunity to place his name in Origin folklore with a similarly epic display here.
Queensland player to watch
It has been touched on already but the key man to keep an eye for the Maroons has to be Cameron Munster. The 24-year-old remains his sides’ key catalyst and it will be interesting to see how the playmaker is able to adapt to his role as fullback.
However, Munster is known for his versatility and should be able to quickly adjust to the new role and after a surprisingly quiet affair in game two, all eyes will be on Munster to see whether he can put forth that masterclass display we have seen on such a regular basis this season.
It is a new era in Queensland and it will be up to players such as Munster to create their own piece of Origin history.