State of Origin 3: Two factors that will decide the decider

Ryan O'Connell Columnist

By Ryan O'Connell, Ryan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    So, here we are. Game 3 of the 2017 State of Origin series. Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The series tied at one game apiece. It’s no big deal, only the future of the planet at stake. Or something like that.

    The Blues took Game 1 in emphatic style, blowing Queensland out in front of their home crowd, and teasing New South Wales fans with the narrative that the Maroons dynasty was finally over.

    Yet Queensland weren’t quite ready to surrender their Origin crown, with the empire striking back in Sydney, pulling off a courageous win that had all the hallmarks of a classic Maroons victory: players injured, behind on the scoreboard, yet somehow Queensland got the win.

    More Origin 3 coverage:
    » Game 3 match report: Maroons keep their dynasty alive after smashing the Blues
    » Five talking points from Origin Game 3
    » WATCH: Highlights from Origin Game 3
    » How it happened: Re-live Game 3 with our Origin live scores, blog and highlights

    It would be easy to say the Blues choked – and they did – but that would discredit the Maroons’ ability to stay within striking distance and captilise on the Blues forgetting how to win.

    So, as the series heads back to Brisbane for the decider, no one really knows what’s going to happen.

    Will NSW prove they’ve been the best team in the series and claim what they feel will be their rightful victory? Or will Queensland win their 11th series in 12 years, and show they’re as mentally tough as they are talented?

    Two factors will decide which state takes home the Origin trophy for 2017.

    Factor 1: Cameron Munster
    He’s long been a favourite of mine, and I slated him for big things a couple of seasons ago.

    Injuries, an Origin ban, and above all, Queensland’s incredible depth, have all played a part in Munster only making his Maroons debut now, and what a time to make it: a decider at Suncorp Stadium.

    Still just 22 years of age, Munster will understandably be nervous, and how he combats those nerves will go a long way to determining the result of this game.

    Replacing Johnathan Thurston at five-eighth with an Origin series on the line is quite the ask of a debutant, and it would be too big a challenge for many young players. However, Munster has a pretty level head on his shoulders and is quite the cool customer.

    Aiding his ability to keep his emotions in check will be the fact he’ll have some familiar faces around him. With Cameron Smith at hooker, Cooper Cronk at halfback, and Billy Slater at fullback, the Melbourne Storm will supply all members of the all-important ‘spine’, and that will provide a level of comfort few rookies have.

    This means Munster will not be asked to do anything of which he’s not capable. He won’t have to play outside of a role he’s not accustomed to, and in fact, he’ll simply need to do what he does every week – and with the same people he does it. That should provide him with plenty of confidence, and when he has that, he’s dangerous.

    Cameron Munster Melbourne Storm

    (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

    He’s a very good runner of the ball, but NSW will need to be wary of him whether he has the ball or not because he’s also an excellent support player. With Cronk probably assuming most of playmaking duties, Munster will be freed up to roam the park looking for opportunities, and when he gets one, he normally makes the most of it.

    The Blues will test his defence, but that has been said about every Origin half since Arthur Beetson was running around. Having said that, it would be wise of NSW to send their forwards at him early and often, in the hope of not just denting his attacking ability, but his confidence.

    A few early missed tackles may get the doubts circling in his head, and if that happens, it could lead to mistakes when Queensland have the ball as well.

    The Maroons don’t have a lot of chinks in their armour, and I’m not convinced Munster is one of them, but considering his age, his lack of Origin experience, and the occasion, it would be prudent for NSW to find out.

    The answer to that probing question may just decide the decider.

    Factor 2: The Blues learning from their Game 2 disaster
    Some people that I respect have tabled the notion that NSW should put the last 30 minutes of Game 2 in the rearview mirror and forget about it. The sentiment goes that the Blues should erase the painful memory of letting a series win slip through their fingers, and focus on what they have done well in the two games.

    I couldn’t disagree more.

    If I was Laurie Daley, I would replay the second half of the Sydney game ad nauseam. I would make the Blues watch it three times a day, every day, right up until the final moments before they run onto the field for Game 3.

    Wade Graham of the NSW Blues takes the ball up during Origin 1

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    The Blues shouldn’t hide from their meltdown in Game 2, they should own it. Every single mistake should be watched. In slow motion. On repeat. The Blues shouldn’t erase their memories of Game 2, they should learn from it. They need to feel the pain of that loss, know that there were a number of things they could have done to prevent it, and accept that they blew it.

    If the Blues learn from their mistakes, and ensure they don’t repeat them, they’ll go a very long way to winning Game 3 and the series. If they haven’t learnt from them, then they’ll lose. It’s that simple.

    So watch the footage, and think about what you could have done differently. If the same situation presents itself, you will hopefully be better prepared for it.

    The added benefit of watching those last 30 minutes again and again and again? It should make them angry. It should fire them up. If they’re sick to death of watching it and are ready to kill their own coaching staff come 7:30pm tonight, then they’ll definitely be ready to play Origin football.

    Watching Dylan Napa smash them and embarrass them is actually the perfect preparation for the game.

    Learn from Game 2. Be angry from Game 2.

    Do that, and you may just end this Queensland dynasty.

    Prediction
    New South Wales Blues 24
    Queensland Maroons 14

    Ryan O
    Ryan O'Connell

    Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.

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    The Crowd Says (34)

    • July 12th 2017 @ 7:58am
      Oingo Boingo said | July 12th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      Brave prediction Ryan.
      The Blues are like an old Holden with Fat tyres , Nice paint and a Smick interior.
      It looks sheet hot and f’n hammers , an impressive beast overall that turns heads and is awesome to drive .
      But ya wouldn’t do a Sydney-Melbourne trip in it , coz it’s just too unreliable.
      I’m making no predictions on this , because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 12 years , there’s just no point.

      • Roar Guru

        July 12th 2017 @ 10:15am
        Nat said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        Hahaha love it!

      • July 12th 2017 @ 10:23am
        Raugeee said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        Excellent analogy OB 😀

        Unleaded petrol, 4-barrel Holleys, extractors, cassette player (Led Zeppelin)

        • July 12th 2017 @ 10:34am
          Raugeee said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

          *Leaded

          • July 12th 2017 @ 10:52am
            Oingo Boingo said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

            Red motor with a two barrel Holley .

        • July 12th 2017 @ 10:36am
          Birdy said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          When i heard barack obama say the muslim call to prayer was the most beautiful sound jn the world, my first thought was he hasn’t driven down the highway in a holden wagon with Led Zeppelin rattling his ear drums.
          The man is dillusional.
          NSW by 20.

    • July 12th 2017 @ 9:10am
      KingCowboy said | July 12th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      If Qld match the NSW forwards again, we win and win big. The QLD crowd noise tonight is going to be off the chart!! Also get on Morgs for first try scorer, whatever money you have in your wallet and even get into the Mrs purse, take it all and load up on him. The more you put on, the more you get back!

      • July 12th 2017 @ 10:16am
        JB said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        I Agree, Whoever wins the battle up front and through the middle will win the game and series, NSW hold a much stronger hand than QLD here.

      • July 12th 2017 @ 10:24am
        Raugeee said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        I’m thinking Cam Smith may be a good shot at MoM too.

    • July 12th 2017 @ 9:42am
      MAX said | July 12th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

      You need to do a stress test, Ryan. Followed by a holiday to cure your wishful thinking (smile)

      • Columnist

        July 12th 2017 @ 11:20am
        Ryan O'Connell said | July 12th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        I’ll happily take a holiday! Your shout?

    • July 12th 2017 @ 9:48am
      south coast bandit said | July 12th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      one question I’ve got is, what is Munster’s kicking game like (i cant bring myself to watch the storm play)? because if he ends up taking a backseat in this department like Milford did in game 1 then NSW will be able to apply massive pressure on Cronk’s last tackle kicks (much like game 1). This seemed to be a massive factor in that 1st game, allow Tedesco to return quite a few kicks close to and sometimes over the halfway line for NSW’s tackle 1.

      Does Munster ever demand the ball on last tackle and over call Cronk in storm matches??

      • July 12th 2017 @ 10:17am
        Raugeee said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Gee that’s a good point SCB – Cronk was actually put off his game, a very rare occurrence. Before QLD took the option of selecting Ben Hunt – the Roar posted this excellent article by Ben Miller – comparing halves / 5/8ths.

        http://www.theroar.com.au/2017/06/29/picking-right-person-job-queenslands-halves-choice/

        Munster was far and away the worst in regards to average metres kicked, and number of kicks per game. He easily leads in number of runs and metres run. Surprisingly, to me, Ben Hunt leads the average metres for kicks!

        Before Game 1, I was hoping for Morgan at 5/8 and DCE on the bench. I still think that would’ve been a strong choice. I guess QLD selectors like the Storm combination of Cronk/Munster – and they played beautifully v Broncos last game.

        I can’t work out how they will work Hunt into the game. He misses 3.2 tackles/game to DCE 1.9. DCE has experience coming off the bench in SOO – there has been some talk of him giving Cameron Smith a break at dummy half. My thought would’ve been they would swap Morgan and Munster around to give QLD better kick options and relieve pressure on Cronk.

        Whatever happens it’s going to be intriguing.

        • July 12th 2017 @ 10:24am
          south coast bandit said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          I wouldnt be surprised is morgan ended up playing @ #6.

          on a side note, I think NSW should start Klemmer and bring Fafita off the bench. QLD would have put a lot of work into their rotation and forward selection to negate the effects of Fafita and does this would let Klemmer just bash up the middle fore the first 18-25mins allowing Fafita to come on a create 2nd phase play.

          • July 12th 2017 @ 10:30am
            Raugeee said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

            In my mind I am downplaying how impressive Klemmer/Fafita are. I love barracking for them when they play for the Kangaroos! I guess they start with Fafita because it maximises his agro temperament – maybe he isn’t a bench player.

            BTW – stats can be misleading. JT doesn’t lead in any of the categories and he makes the most errors and he misses the most tackles. Still, there aren’t many who wouldn’t select him straight up if he is fit.

            • July 12th 2017 @ 11:13am
              south coast bandit said | July 12th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

              surely any player is a step down from JT (injured or not).

              JT still offers that 2nd kicker in general play (and his short kicking game is 2nd to none) where, from those stats above, I would think Munster is a massive step down.

              I think this is where NSW can win this game:

              * fast ruck speed
              * quick play the balls
              * 2nd phase (fifita/woods/jurbo)
              * kick pressure on cronk

              and they need to do it for 80mins.

              • July 12th 2017 @ 11:16am
                south coast bandit said | July 12th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

                and like you said Raugeee, stats can be misleading, so can someone who watches storm matches please enlighten me;

                “Does Munster ever demand the ball on last tackle and over call Cronk in storm matches??”

    • July 12th 2017 @ 10:31am
      Granter said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

      FIFITA.
      Not FAFITA

    • July 12th 2017 @ 10:58am
      Charles NSW said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

      This is the very last time I put all my hope in NSW with Daley as the coach.
      Do not let me down!

      • July 12th 2017 @ 11:13am
        south coast bandit said | July 12th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        until game 1 next year 😉

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