There have only been 7 series since 1982 (the first year Origin moved to a 3 game format), that have ended 3 games to nil. Do QLD sweep?. Or do NSW send their captain courageous out in style?
2006 game 3, in the last quarter of the game QLD are down 14-4 and staring down the barrel of 3 series losses in a row and everyone is talking NSW dynasty. Thurston switches to the other side of the ground, show and go, into the backfield, passes to Tate and as Ray Warren famously called "Tate goes for the pedal".Tate races away beating the NSW chase. QLD score and they are back to 14-10. A few sets later NSW are coming out of their end off a kick return and Brett Hodgson at dummy half throws a wayward pass, we hear this:
Sterling: "The Blues slow to get back into the line"
Warren: "Ohhhh Intercepted by Locky"
Sterling: "He Score's"
Gould: "OH NO!!!!"
Warren:" THEY CAN'T TAKE THAT OFF HIM, THEY WONT TAKE THAT OFF HIM!!"
The rest is history. I see a lot of similarities between 2006 and the game we are going to Witness on Wednesday night. Yes QLD didn't face 10 years of NSW brutality in 2006, just 3. And this isn't a decider. What is the same is that apparently QLD can't lose. Apparently NSW could't lose in 2006. QLD have built a dynasty. In 2006 apparently NSW were on the verge of a dynasty. Apparently if QLD win, Origin will be dead. Apparently if NSW won in 2006 Origin would have died.
QLD are supposed to take their team of champions to Sydney and wrap up the series, clinically, professionally, ruthlessly and skillfully, just like QLD do. The young NSW side of 2016, much like the QLD side of 2006 will do what they can to make sure that does't eventuate.
What benefits NSW:
They are playing at home with a side that can score plenty of points and they have the added emotion of trying to win one for Gallen. Gallen wont want the game to be about him. However when you have become an institution to your fans like Gallen has, his team wont want it any other way. There have only been 7 series clean sweeps since 1982, quite simply, NSW have mathematics on their side. For the fans, Laurie Daley has finally picked Tedesco and Graham, so for all the couch selectors, you finally got Teddie, if NSW lose you can't go blaming Daley for selection issues.
What benefits QLD:
They have had very little disruptions to their camp. Myles slots back in seamlessly and they have picked a bigger bench. In game one at the same venue QLD's smaller pack certainly struggled against NSW go forward so a bigger pack certainly helps. Many of QLDs players haven't hit top gear in Origin this year. We saw in game 3 last year what a QLD side firing on all cylinders can do. As important to NSW as Gallen is, not to be forgotten is the importance of Parker to QLD. Yes he got the series win at Suncorp, but no team like to lose an Origin, series dependant or not QLD like to give their favourites a farewell.
What's the game plan - NSW?
Run the ball. And Run it as much as they can. NSW will of course rely on their forwards to lay the platform. After that though they will be looking to Maloney, Bird and Tedesco to try and punch holes trough the defense. Maloney is a running five eighth playing at halfback and Bird is a half/centre/utility in a makeshift roll and is a running pivot also. NSW will rely on Farah's dummy half kicking to get them out of trouble. And expect Graham to put a few on the left boot. Targeting debutantes is a key priority for any Origin team so plenty of traffic will go Cooper's way when he gets on the field. They will try and use their youth to run QLD
off their legs.
What's the game plan - QLD?
With a bigger pack, QLD might play in a bit tighter to the ruck. Papalii is a big out for QLD, he gave them so much go forward in the first two games, they will need big efforts from Lillyman and Cooper. Look close to the line for the Thurston-Cooper combo. With the running prowess of NSW, Smith will be kicking early in the sets to pin NSW down. And Cooper Cronk will surely try and pepper Tedesco with floating bombs.
Take emotion, send offs and clean sweep mathematics out of the equation, the key to this match up is in the halves. QLD with their champion halfback pairing up against the makeshift pairing of Maloney and Bird. As long as QLD don't completely implode NSW wont have enough game management in the middle to get them result. Side v Side QLD are too strong. The Maroons by 10.
The NSW VB Blues v The QLD XXXX Maroons, Wednesday 13/07/2016 coverage from 7.30pm. Check your local television guides.
NSW: 1.Tedesco 2.Feguson 3.Jennings 4.Dugan 5.Mansour 6.Bird 7.Maloney 8.Woods 9.Farah 10.Gallen 11.Graham 12.Jackson 13.Frizell Interchange: Tamou, Klemmer, Fifita, Moylan.
QLD: 1.Boyd 2.Oates 3.Inglis 4.O'Neill 5.Gagai 6.Thurston 7.Cronk 8.Scott 9.Smith 10.MCGuire 11.Gillett 12.Thiaday 13.Parker Interchange: Myles, Lillyman, Guerra, Cooper.