State of Origin 3: Series win is all in the head for the Blues

Greg Prichard Columnist

By Greg Prichard, Greg Prichard is a Roar Expert

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15 Have your say

    It’s all mental for NSW in State of Origin 3. If they play smart and remain disciplined for 80 minutes, they will win.

    If they lose the plot like they did in the second half of Game 2, they will be inviting Queensland to take the series, and – as we all know – the Maroons usually accept such invitations.

    There have been no truer words said during this series than NSW’s best football is better than Queensland’s best.

    More Origin 3 coverage:
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    But the history of these clashes says that if the Blues want to beat the Maroons, they have to remain switched on and adhere to the plan for the duration of the match.

    Not 75 minutes, not 76, not even 79. Nothing less than 80, because of Queensland’s famed ability to hang in there if things aren’t going their way and take advantage of any slip-up to win the game.

    NSW were dominant in Game 1 at Suncorp Stadium, when they won 28-4. They should have won Game 2 at ANZ Stadium, instead of losing 18-16.

    The Maroons pounced like they normally do when given the opportunity, but they would never have found themselves in a position to win had the Blues not come up with the series of stupid penalties they conceded and poor options they took after leading 16-6 at halftime.

    Queensland were given some easy routes into great field position when NSW should really have been turning the screws on them.

    Why it happened is hard to comprehend. It has been described by some as a choke, but it didn’t really seem that way. It just looked plain dumb, like the heads of some of the NSW players went off and were replaced by pumpkins.

    But, whatever the reason, it can’t be allowed to happen again, because it will result in the same outcome.

    The leadership for the Blues has got to be stronger, and more obvious, than it was in Sydney, and four men must be responsible for making that happen.

    The coach, Laurie Daley, the captain, Boyd Cordner, and the halves, James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce.

    Why didn’t the Blues come out for the second half ready to eat the Maroons alive? They had them on the rack, with a ten-point lead, but instead they let them back into the game.

    Yes, Queensland did well to score the tries that eventually got them the win, but most of what NSW did wrong in the second half was easily avoidable.

    Will Chambers is tackled

    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    Instead of being able to get down the field often enough to eventually turn the match around, the Maroons should have been playing out from deep in their own area a lot more often.

    And that would have been advantage NSW.

    The Blues should have come out for that second half ready to monster the Maroons and put them away. That’s how Queensland would have come out, had the situation been reversed.

    On the field, Cordner and the halves, with their responsibility to lead the team around the park, have got to do a better job of keeping everyone in the team focused and heading in the right direction.

    Queensland have deservedly dominated the recent history of Origin, winning ten of the last 11 series with their magnificent team for the ages, but circumstances change and NSW have the superior team this year.

    It’s up to them to prove it. They’ve blown one chance – this series should already be decided – but fortunately for them they get one more. If they don’t take it, they’re going to be shell-shocked.

    This is not like 2014, when the Blues got their only series win during that 11-year stretch.

    Then, Jarryd Hayne’s brilliant form stood out for them in narrow wins in Games 1 and 2. Across the board, this NSW team is better equipped.

    Their forwards dominated the Maroons in Game 1 and they should win that battle again. Even allowing for the changes Queensland made to their forwards after that opening clash, the NSW forwards are still better.

    Going back to Brisbane shouldn’t stop NSW. The surface at Suncorp is faster and drier than at ANZ, and Game 1 showed it suits the way they want to play.

    But they have to get things right in their heads first. If they are even just a bit off it will be a lost cause, because Queensland will play like their lives depend on the result. They always do.

    Greg Prichard
    Greg Prichard

    Greg Prichard has spent all of his working life in the media, from way back when journalists were still using typewriters. He has covered rugby league, football, AFL and various other sports for News Limited and Fairfax newspapers and also worked for magazines, radio and pay television. Twitter: @gregprichard

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • July 12th 2017 @ 8:09am
      Roberto said | July 12th 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      “There have been no truer words said during this series than NSW’s best football is better than Queensland’s best.”

      I think I have heard that for the last 12 years, being mentally arrogant has not helped NSW one bit.

      • Roar Guru

        July 12th 2017 @ 8:47am
        Will Sinclair said | July 12th 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        I think I have heard that for the last 12 years

        Um… no.

      • July 12th 2017 @ 8:51am
        danwain said | July 12th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

        Haven’t heard it at all the last 12 years, Queensland s best was far beyond anything NSW could offer up.

        Having said that, there is no doubt that it is true this year, Queensland have been run over by NSW at times, looking like rabbits in the headlights. It’s clear to most observers that if NSW play to their potential tonight they will win, it’s a big if though, Queensland have it all over them mentally.

      • July 12th 2017 @ 11:28pm
        Rory said | July 12th 2017 @ 11:28pm | ! Report

        In the word’s of me… “That was Queensland’s best”

    • July 12th 2017 @ 8:27am
      Oingo Boingo said | July 12th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      I’m not sure Cordner is the best captain for this side.
      I’ve watched him in a few Roosters games and he’s not much of a talker , and seems to let pivotal moments slip by , rather than seizing the moment.
      I’ll be interested to see how he goes tonight, that is , if he lasts 80 minutes , and if he doesn’t , both he and Daley really need to take a serious look st themselves.

      • July 12th 2017 @ 11:23am
        Raugeee said | July 12th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

        Daley has said he doubts Corner will last the 80. That spells huge confusion.

    • July 12th 2017 @ 9:05am
      john miller said | July 12th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      As GP interested in sports medicine in think Cordner is in trouble. He is a big body and well proportioned except (as you will notice from video clips) has comparatively small calves for such a powerhouse forward and I think the injury to that part of his anatomy will take longer to to heal because of the disproportional strain on his gastrocs .

      • July 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm
        jameswm said | July 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

        Shane Watson has massive calves, and got heaps of calf injuries.

        Size does not equal strength.

    • July 12th 2017 @ 10:58am
      BigRed from PNG said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

      I have read this kind of article for the last 12 years.

    • Roar Pro

      July 12th 2017 @ 11:12am
      Andrew Macdougall said | July 12th 2017 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      I would be good as a neutral to see a different state take the series for a change.

    • Roar Guru

      July 12th 2017 @ 12:49pm said | July 12th 2017 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

      Prior to the series the 2 players with the lowest “trust factor” were Graham and Maloney and along with Hayne, those 3 players let Qld back into G2 when the winning post was in sight.
      If NSW are leading I would be in no rush to move Cordner.

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