The Queensland selectors have made just one change to the run-on Maroons side for State of Origin 3, bringing in Justin Hodges to play his first match of the series.
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NSW Blues team for Origin game 3 (expert reaction)
Over the years, much has been said and written about Queensland’s loyalty and consistency in picking players, but for the first time in recent memory, that faith must have come under pressure.
Queensland were comprehensively beaten in Sydney, and their vaunted forward pack looked old and slow.
The Maroons have earned the right to not be judged off one poor game, but Origin 3 will give a clearer indication of whether or not Queensland’s size is a strategy that should be consigned to the scrapheap, or remains the best method of dominating a game of football.
The best fullback in the game has been influential in the series, but has not dominated. However, Slater is a big game player, and it doesn’t get much bigger than a State of Origin decider. NSW, you’ve been warned.
There is a long tradition of Queensland wingers that NSW fans hate, and Boyd has comfortably assumed that mantle. His smugness rubs many people the wrong way, but his talent is unquestioned. He had a quiet game 2, and will be looking to bounce back at Suncorp.
The big centre is still a long way from his best, and watching footage of him from 3 years ago is akin to watching a completely different player, both in terms of his size and his impact on a game. But he’s a class player and if he returns to form, NSW will be in for a tough time.
Hodges returns from injury and Queensland finally have their first choice back-line all fit. With his damaging fend and acid tongue, Hodges will be keen to stamp his class on the 2011 Origin series, as injuries have prevented him from playing since 2009.
Jharal Yow Yeh
Didn’t see a lot of ball in Origin 2, and he was caught out in defence on a few occasions. There is no doubt that Ricky Stuart and his halves would have taken notice, and as such, he can expect to be targeted in Brisbane.
Darren Lockyer (c)
The curtain is about to be drawn on the legend’s career, and this will be Locky’s last Origin match. The stage is set for a dramatic finale – a series decider in front of his home crowd. The Maroons will be extremely motivated to send their skipper out a winner, and it very well may be the man himself who sets up a fitting farewell.
Escaped suspension from the judiciary when an all-NSW panel ruled him innocent of contrary conduct involving his contact with a referee. NSW fans proclaimed the decision to be proof of no bias, but considering how poorly Thurston played in game 2, maybe NSW felt they’re better off JT plays anyway.
Dominated game one. Got dominated in game 2. What happens in game 3 is anyone’s guess, but Scott has been in sublime form all season, and is considered the number one prop in the game, so expect him to improve.
An absolutely outstanding player. In Sydney, he scored Queensland’s first try, and was easily the Maroons best player. Smith is making a serious claim to be anointed the best rugby league player in the world.
Up until game 2, Petero seemed to have located the fountain of youth. He was playing as well as he ever has, and making his customary brutal hit ups. But at Homebush, Father Time seemed to tap the old warhorse on the shoulder. Was it an aberration, or the beginning of the inevitable decline? Game 3 very well may hold the answer.
Myles was off the pace in game 2 as the Blues forwards dominated the forward battle and ran riot. Like his teammates, Myles is allowed one bad game, but he’ll certainly need to lift his output for the decider.
NSW fans think Thaiday is a fake tough guy. The perception is that he picks on smaller players, but goes missing when a player his size or bigger wants a confrontation. He’s also notorious for being the third player in when there is any scuffles. Whether any of that is accurate is debatable, but what is not in question is that Thaiday needs to return to his form from two years ago.
Went missing in game 2, but he’ll be a key player in Queensland’s quest to overcome the Blues, because he is the one Maroon forward best equipped to combat the Blues athleticism.
Queensland’s x-factor in game 1 had little impact on game 2, despite seeing early game time once again. His role didn’t seem as clearly defined in the Sydney encounter, but he’s all class and NSW need to be wary of influence on the game.
The Bundy Bear looked slow and flat footed in the second game, and is yet another Queensland forward looking to make amends for a poor showing in Sydney.
Lillyman returns to the side at the expense of the suspended Dave Taylor. The hard-working Warriors forward failed to fire in game 1, and will be looking to make amends in the decider.
After a solid game 1, Nielsen struggled in Sydney. However he stays in the squad as cover for the Maroons backs.
Lucky to earn another Maroon jersey after doing little of note in the second Origin encounter.
Those missing out:
The 22 year old misses out, having pleaded guilty to a dangerous throw and will find out tonight how many weeks he’ll miss. NSW won’t mind, as no player wants Taylor running at them.
The tackling machine was unlucky not to make a return to Origin football at the expense of Corey Parker. Johnson would have shored-up the Maroons defence, and tends to do all the small intangible things right. Such ‘things’ make all the difference at Origin level, and he could be missed.