We take a look at what’s being said and team news for Wednesday’s State of Origin series decider between Queensland and New South Wales in Brisbane…
Once again, it comes down to the third and final match to decide whether the State of Origin title will be staying in New South Wales’ hands or returning to Queensland for the first time since 2017.
This is the 21st time in 40 years of Origin that it has all come down to the final match and although it was the Blues who triumphed last year, history favours the Maroons – particularly with Wednesday’s clash being in Brisbane.
November 18, 2020, 9:05am
In total, the Queenslanders have won 13 to New South Wales’ five with two draws prior to extra time being introduced. The hosts also have an impressive record on their home patch of Suncorp Stadium.
Brad Fittler’s men will no doubt be channelling the spirit of the 2005 Blues team – the last to win a series decider away to their rivals and, coincidentally, the last time they won three Origin series in a row as the class of 2019 are attempting to do.
Back then, a team captained by current NSW selector Danny Buderus triumphed 32-10 on the back of a hat-trick of tries from Matt King in front of a near-52,500 crowd.
Suncorp is expected to be once again full to capacity after the Queensland state government lifted covid-19 restrictions from Tuesday and the Maroons will be banking on that vocal home crowd to roar them to victory.
Wayne Bennett is backing his young guns to come to the fore when Queensland host their old rivals in the series decider on Wednesday.
The head coach has brought in Corey Allan, who plays under him at club level at South Sydney Rabbitohs, at full-back – Valentine Holmes moves to the wing – and hooker Harry Grant is set to make his bow off the bench.
Allan will find himself up against New South Wales No 1 James Tedesco, while Grant comes in for the dropped Ben Hunt after an impressive season on loan at Wests Tigers, and Bennett expects both to shine.
“It’s obviously a big test, but he answered all of those in two years at Souths,” Bennett said of Allan.
“He’s got his confidence, he’s as good an option as we’ve got considering the couple of options we’ve got. He’s confident and I’ve got confidence in him.
Of Grant, he added: “Harry has got that type breeding in him where he’s a bit of a tearaway guy, he keeps trying really hard and I like the qualities I see in him.”
The Lee cousins, Brenko and Edrick, will make their Origin debuts as well after being named in a reshaped three-quarter line, with Brenko’s return seeing Kurt Capewell move back into the second row.
“I didn’t in my wildest dreams think I’d be in camp, be named to debut,” winger Edrick, who missed part of the 2020 NRL season due to injury, said. “I just wanted to get back on the field and just make sure I played with a smile on my face this year.”
“I managed to do that the back half of the year and this is a nice reward for all the hardship I’ve had to go through.”
Cody Walker was one of the stand-out players for New South Wales in last week’s win over Queensland in Sydney and is now aiming to finally banish memories of his last Origin match at Suncorp Stadium.
The South Sydney stand-off was dropped after last year’s 18-14 defeat to the Maroons in the 2019 series opener and admitted he struggled for form for the rest of the year after that.
But it was the words of club coach Bennett, the man coaching the Blues’ rivals this year, which helped him rediscover his form and he is aiming to take that into Wednesday’s decider.
“Wayne was a big help through that period,” Walker told NRL.com. “Personally, I didn’t regain my form really until the back end of that year.
“Wayne’s main message was ‘bring Cody Walker to games’. That’s been one of his biggest messages to me, and he just kept it up through that period – ‘Just go be Cody Walker. Smile and play your footy.'”
New South Wales head coach Brad Fittler has named an unchanged team for the trip to Brisbane and skipper Tedesco knows what it would mean to seal a third series in a row.
“We have a great chance to bring the pride back to NSW,” Tedesco said. “We’ve shown that in the way we want to play for each other and the jersey.
“I think we’ve started to build it back the last few years, but this would really top if off with three in a row and finishing it off up there.”
Queensland: Corey Allan; Xavier Coates, Dane Gagai, Brenko Lee, Edrick Lee; Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans; Christian Welch, Jake Friend, Josh Papalii, Kurt Capewell, Felise Kaufusi, Tino Fa’suamaleaui.
Interchange: Jaydn Su’A, Harry Grant, Lindsay Collins, Jai Arrow
New South Wales: James Tedesco; Daniel Tupou, Clint Gutherson, Jack Wighton, Josh Addo-Carr; Cody Walker, Nathan Cleary, Daniel Saifiti, Damien Cook, Payne Haas, Angus Crichton, Tyson Frizell, Jake Trbojevic.
Interchange: Dale Finucane, Junior Paulo, Nathan Brown, Isaah Yeo.
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