PREVIEW: Origin Game III, 2016
The 2016 State of Origin series will come to an end tonight (Wednesday night) with Game III settling the final result. Will it be a clean sweep to Queensland, or will NSW spoil the Maroons’ party on home turf?
The Queensland Maroons will venture south to Sydney to face the NSW Blues at ANZ Stadium. With Queensland having already won the series, with wins in Game I and Game II, NSW are bound and determined to prevent a clean sweep.
The Maroons will have the crowd, but not the odds, against them as they look to complete their clean sweep, having narrowly won all of the games in the past two series at the venue.
On the other hand, the Blues will be major underdogs for the match, having come up short in their previous encounters in 2016.
The Blues are looking to reinvigorate things by adding new players to the starting line-up for the match.
The Blues have brought in Origin debutant, James Tedesco, to add some spark to the attack and some security to the defence.
Another new inclusion into the Blues squad will be Wade Graham.
Graham was originally included in the Blues’ Origin II squad, but was forced to miss the game due to a ban as a result of a high tackle on Johnathan Thurston.
Returning for the Blues will be Josh Dugan who will be playing in the centres for Game III.
In recent weeks, the Blues have had to change their original line up, as Rabbitohs half-back Adam Reynolds, who played for the Blues in Origins I and II, failed to pass a fitness test on his injured shoulder.
As a result of Reynolds’s exclusion, Blues coach Laurie Daley has opted to stick with players who have played in the 2016 series and will move Jack Bird from the interchange bench to the role of five-eighth, while moving current five-eighth James Maloney to halfback.
To fill Bird’s ‘impact player’ role on the interchange bench, Daley has recalled former Blues fullback, Matt Moylan.
On the Queensland front, the Maroons have not made many changes to their consistent team, as they have done throughout the series, as they look to maintain their dominance.
“‘Kevvie’ (Queensland Origin Coach Kevin Walters) probably hasn’t changed too much from what Mal (Meninga) had set up,” said Queensland under 20s coach and Rabbitohs assistant coach Kurt Wrigley.
“It’s a bit of a different set up for them this year because the series has already been won. They are a player-driven group and they were very sharp in their session. They are relaxed and enjoying each other’s company.”
The only change to the Maroons’ squad is the addition of Cowboy’s second-rower, Gavin Cooper, who will come onto the Maroons’ interchange bench for Wednesday night’s clash, and make his long awaited Origin debut.
At the age of 30, Cooper is one of the oldest debutants in the history of the interstate series.
Despite the series already being clinched by the Queenslanders, and Game III being a dead rubber, there is still a lot on the line for both teams.
Most notably, both sides want to see off a long serving veteran of their team with a win. Origin III will be the last Origin game ever played by NSW captain Paul Gallen and Queensland stalwart Corey Parker.
Gallen, who debuted for the Blues in Game III of the 2006 Origin series, will have captained the Blues 16 times when he leads the team out on Wednesday night, breaking Danny Buderus’ record for the most-capped skipper of NSW.
Parker, who debuted for the Maroons in Game II of the 2004 series, will play his 19th Origin game for Queensland when he runs out on Wednesday night. It is imperative for both teams to send off their respective legends in style.
Spotlight: Greg Inglis’ 30th Origin Match
On Wednesday night Rabbitohs captain Greg Inglis will achieve a major milestone when he plays his 30th Origin match for the Queensland Maroons.
This unique milestone has only been achieved by seven Queenslanders; Inglis will be the eighth.
Inglis debuted for Queensland in Game I of the 2006 series and has played in almost every Origin game since.
“I caught up with GI after our training session and he looks good. We had a good chat,” said Kurt Wrigley.
“He plays his 30th Origin match on Wednesday night and he’s really looking forward to it.
“He’s very aware of how big that milestone is and how importantly it is treated within the Queensland organisation.
“They have a ‘30 Club’ and recognise the guys who have played 30 Origins. It’s similar to playing 300 NRL games in our eyes. It’s huge.”
NSW U20s vs QLD U20s
The curtain raiser fixture for the main Origin match up is a clash between the under 20s representative sides for New South Wales and Queensland.
Both sides have a Rabbitohs feel, with NSW having South Sydney junior Tevita Cottrell coming off the bench, and Assistant Coach Ben Gardiner is part of the coaching set up for the Young Blues.
For the Young Maroons, they will led by their Head Coach and Rabbitohs Assistant Coach Kurt Wrigley.
Both sides are chock-full of under 20s talent which should make for an entertaining game.
With the under 20s competition invariably delivering high scoring affairs, we should expect to see plenty of points scored in the curtain raiser.