Origin Series Decider

Photo: Adam McLean/watoday.com.au
Luke Lewis was man of the match in game one. Photo: Adam McLean/watoday.com.au
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New South Wales  has suffered a huge blow in going into the State of Origin series decider against Queensland  at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday day, with skipper Paul Gallen ruled out with a foot injury. Already without star fullback Jarryd Hayne for the match and with tough backrower Greg Bird in a race against time to prove his fitness, the Blues face a tough task in stopping the Maroons scoring an eighth straight series success.

Robbie Farah will captain New South Wales for the first time in Gallen’s absence, with James Tamou returning in the front row after missing his side’s 26-6 defeat in Brisbane at the end of June. Winger Nathan Merritt has been dumped after having a shocker on the right flank in game two and has been replaced by James McManus, who will play his first Origin match since 2009. Roosters backrower Boyd Cordner remains on standby for Bird - who is the most experienced Origin player in the Blues squad with 13 appearances –as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury sustained against Penrith when playing for the Titans last weekend.

For the first time since their winning run began in 2006, Queensland has named an unchanged side for game three of the series following a dominant performance at Suncorp Stadium. Daly Cherry-Evans and Josh Papalii will again come off the bench following strong debuts when the Maroons levelled the series, although the latter will want more than the 11 minutes that he got in Brisbane. Warriors forward Jacob Lillyman has again been named 18th man while Will Chambers is also part of the squad to gain experience for the future.

1st Tryscorer

James McManus  doesn’t have much of a pedigree in representative football but there is no questioning his current form for the Knights. He is the leading tryscorer in the NRL this season with 16 four pointers from as many matches and has got across the line in five of his past four matches.

He may not be the most dangerous player in the Maroons lineup but Darius Boyd  has a tryscoring record in State of Origin that is only bettered by teammate Greg Inglis. He scored a double at Suncorp Stadium three weeks ago to take his tally to 12 tries in 16 Origin appearances for Queensland.

Prediction

Queensland showed that it wasn’t going to relinquish its status as the dominant force in State of Origin rugby league with its crushing victory at Suncorp Stadium three weeks ago, and will be confident of going on with the job by claiming the trophy in enemy territory. New South Wales was a different proposition at home in the series opener however and will be sure to bring the same intensity to the decider at ANZ Stadium, even with some of their best players out. If the Blues are going to have any chance of winning, the likes of Andrew Fifita  and Aaron Woods  need to at least match Queensland in the engine room. Given the dominance of the Maroons pack in Brisbane however, they will have their work cut out doing that. Queensland by 4

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