Origin legends Brad Fittler and Michael Crocker expect plenty of niggling in a fierce contest at Suncorp Stadium tonight for Origin III.
Both said the half-time leader will not necessarily win the game, and series, with both states primed to grind out a victory.
“I think it’ll be tough early, but we’re going to see a fair bit of ball movement because both teams will be compressed trying to get some really good defence,” Crocker said.
“Just a couple of passes to get to the edges. (And) Queensland, obviously the conditions are a little but drier up there, there’s not as much dew.
“It’s going to be a good exciting game at the back-end of each half.”
Fittler, an assistant coach of the Blues, says NSW needs to stay in control and not follow the Maroons eagerness to shift the ball.
“NSW have to keep it a bit tighter than Queensland,” Fittler said.
“What tends to happen if one team starts shifting the ball, as Queensland will do, and they do always with a lot of confidence at Suncorp, then NSW will want to do that.
“So I think we need to be a little more controlled.”
Crocker said NSW will utilise its size and try to go through the middle.
“Queensland need to move those big guys around to make them tired,” Crocker said.
Origin III kicks off tonight at 8.15pm.
There is something different about this one. You can feel it.
If Queensland lose, the dynasty really is dead. Even though we know that this is Justin Hodges’ last hurrah in the Maroon jersey, if the Blues crash the party at Suncorp, he won’t be the only one saying goodbye to the Origin arena.
The end of an era
Some will decide to call it a day and walk away with the memories of a winning streak that may very well never be broken, but there will be others who will be unmercifully discarded to bring in fresher and younger blood into the team.
Queensland does not want this to happen.
referees to blow the pea out of the whistle when they have the ball.
The maroon forwards, not used to being on the wrong end of the arm wrestle, will launch themselves time after time at their Blues counterparts.
They will do this whether they have the ball in hand or not.
The brains trust of Smith, Thurston and Cronk will be barking orders all night, and when the opportunity arises, at the referees as well.
The Queensland backline will also have a score to settle, especially Hodges. He was found to be wanting when the speed of Michael Jennings was unleashed in the early stages of Game II.
He wants redemption, he wants to go out a winner, he doesn’t want to be the reason his last Origin game and series goes down in the record books as a loss. In a funny way, he doesn’t want to go out the same way he came in. Could history repeat?
The Blues have a quiet confidence about them.
They have to make sure this doesn’t turn into arrogance. Suncorp Stadium can humble you, especially when everything is on the line.
If anyone knows that, it is Laurie Daley. He would have been telling his troops all week that they still have a job to do, that their mission is not yet completed.
But if they can do it, the prize at the end will be all the sweeter because of what this series has produced and for what will occur afterward.
The Maroons feel disrespected by their younger Blues foes.
Father Time has made an appearance throughout this series and he has touched a Maroon jersey here and there.
The aura of this great Queensland team is dwindling before their very eyes and the Blues no longer feel beaten before they run out onto the field. They smell blood, they smell weakness and they smell victory.
This game may well decide the winner of this year’s series but it will decide a few more things as well.
It will decide whether the Maroon dynasty is truly over; It will decide whether some players have played their last Origin game; It will decide whether some players will finally realise their potential or whether they will stay in the darkness in the valley between being a great club player and becoming a successful Origin player.