Why the Maroons will win State of Origin III
Nate Myles gives the thumbs up during State of Origin One. AAP Image/Action Photographics, Brett Crockford
NSW Blues fans in Channel 9′s live audience of The Footy Show cheered wildly last Thursday when it was revealed that Billy Slater was officially ruled out of Origin III.
Had they known that he would be replaced at the back by Greg Inglis, their roars might have collectively faded to a hush.
Inglis has been relatively quiet for Queensland in this year’s series but the switch from centre to fullback should ring alarm bells for NSW. It seems the genius of G.I. cannot be shackled when he’s operating from the rear of the field.
He has been sensational at No 1 for South Sydney this year, averaging the most tackle busts as well as line breaks of all fullbacks in the NRL this season – including Slater.
That’s a pretty awesome form line and when you consider that Inglis has scored a record 14 tries in just 17 Origin games, NSW will be flat chat keeping him away from the try line tonight.
In short, the spontaneous brilliance and blinding speed of Slater has been replaced by the brute strength and power of man mountain Inglis.
With a licence to roam and bob up anywhere in attack, Inglis looms as the No 1 bogeyman for the Blues. If he times his runs to explode onto passes from the likes of Cam Smith and Johnathan Thurston, NSW will be back-pedalling for large periods of play.
There are a number of reasons why I think the Maroons will win tonight and the decision to switch Inglis to fullback is at the top of my list. Ben Barba’s time will undoubtedly come in Origin football. Greg Inglis’ time is now…
I expect the Maroons, with the home ground advantage, will hit peak form when it matters most. They have been below expectations in the first two games but the prospect of winning a seventh successive series will drive them back up to their awesome best.
As I see it, the big pressure is on Ricky Stuart and his Blues. They are desperate to win this game which is seen by many as the biggest Origin game in history.
Desperation was a huge part of NSW’s makeup in the corresponding game last season and we all recall how a cool Queensland combination blew them off the park with a faultless, 24-0 first half blitz.
Petero Civoniceva’s final Origin game is also going to play a huge part in tonight’s outcome. The much loved and respected front rower deserves a fitting exit from rugby league’s showpiece arena and his Maroon mates will perform accordingly so that he gets a replica farewell to legend Lockyer enjoyed last year.
If Petero manages to barge over for the opening try – any try – the crowd reaction at Suncorp will probably be heard even without TV or radio in Sydney.
The NSW kicking game has been bordering on dreadful in the opening two games of the series.
Can you believe the Blues have yet to enjoy a repeat set from trapping Queensland in-goal in either of the first two games? By contrast, Queensland earned three repeat sets in Game 1 and six in the Sydney game.
As tactical kickers, Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney are not in the same league as Maroons trio Smith, Thurston and Cronk.
Like all league fans, I am keenly awaiting tonight’s blockbuster which will deliver all it promises and probably much, much more.
The Blues have made up a lot of ground on this remarkable Queensland team but I just can’t see them winning tonight. Queensland by seven.