Queensland To Restore Pride

Source: Brett Costello/News Limited
Johnathan Thurston will look to finish the Origin series on a high. Source: Brett Costello/News Limited

QLD State of Origin Logo


Suncorp Stadium

Wednesday July 9 – 8:10 PM (AEST)

NSW State of Origin Logo

Many are saying this one will not have the same passion as Games 1 and 2. Try telling that to the Queensland Maroons . With the Origin shield heading back down to New South Wales for the first time in 8 years, the Maroons have nothing left to play for but pride. But that’s all they need. Coach Mal Meninga has been on both sides of a series whitewash in his playing career, and knows all too well the awful feelings that come with it. For the New South Wales Blues , it’s a chance to return the humiliation they've endured for the better part of a decade.

Many of the Maroons have never experienced the pain of a series loss, let alone a 'blue wash'. Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Corey Parker were all there the last time the Blues won a series way back in 2005, and Justin Hodges was there a few times before that. But for the majority of this squad, they don’t know what it’s like NOT to be holding up the Origin Shield. Greg Inglis has been there since the dynasty began back in 2006, so have Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday.

Injuries have again plagued the Maroons camp in the final match of 2014, with Brent Tate and Matt Scott being added to the casualty list. Will Chambers gets his chance in a Queensland jersey, on the wing for Tate, while Jacob Lillyman returns to the fray again after a solid Game 2, replacing Scott in the front row. The return of Cooper Cronk is a huge boost for the Maroons, who have missed his direction and calmness over the past two games. With Cronk back, Daly Cherry-Evans reverts to the bench, and can again add the same impact he did last year when he coming onto the field.

It will be icing on the cake if the Blues can come away with the win on Wednesday. For so many years the Blues have been walking away empty handed. But this year, the streak has finally ended and their long origin drought is over - the shield heads south. The Blues were given little chance ahead of Game 1, and produced one of the gutsiest wins in recent memory. In Game 2, they were solid favourites, and capitalised on the home-ground advantage. But they know it will a whole different game on Wednesday. They realise this time the Maroons want blood. Queenslanders live for Origin, and they will put everything on the line to make sure it's not a whitewash.

The Blues also have injury woes. Michael Jennings will miss the game with a back injury, making way for Josh Morris to return to the side, after missing Game 2 because of a knee injury. Will Hopoate (shoulder) is replaced on the wing by veteran James McManus. Anthony Watmough is also missing after being suspended for a dangerous throw, with Boyd Cordner coming onto the bench.

Every NRL player wants to wear an Origin jersey. It is the pinnacle of Rugby League, and an honour to pull on the respective jerseys. One team will play for pride, the other for respect. Even though the winner has already been decided, this match will push every man to breaking point, and then even further. There is never a dead origin game - just ask the players!

LIVE on Channel 9

Toby's Tip: NSW to win by 4

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