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NRL: State of Origin game three preview

The stakes could not be higher in Brisbane on Wednesday night when Queensland and New South Wales go head-to-head in the State of Origin decider.

As far as the Australian sporting calendar goes it does not get much bigger than a State of Origin decider in Brisbane.

Queensland won the opener in Sydney, but after making a number of changes to their side, New South Wales responded with a resounding victory in Perth for game two.

Now all eyes turn to Brisbane for the decider and it has not been a happy hunting ground for NSW in years gone by.

They have only won three of the 15 Origin games that have been played there and the last one was back in 2017.

Maroons coach Billy Slater says history will play no part in the outcome of game three and his players will have to go out and earn the result. But they will have to do it without star playmaker Cameron Munster.

The Blues will be full of confidence following the win in Perth but know it will be a completely different proposition at Suncorp.

The game has all the makings of a classic so let’s take a closer look at both sides.

What: Queensland v New South Wales
Where: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
When: 20:00 (AEST) Wednesday 13th July 2022
How to watch: Channel 9, Foxtel
Odds: Queensland 47/20, New South Wales 7/20

Queensland’s chances of winning game three and the series were hit by a massive blow when five-eighth Munster was ruled out.

The Melbourne Storm ace won the man-of-the-match award as the Maroons won game one and he would have been the man to rise to the occasion again in game three.

However it is not to be and Slater now looks set to turn to Tom Dearden to partner captain Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves.

Slater will keep everyone guessing and will not confirm his starting line-up until just an hour before kick-off. However it is thought that Dearden will definitely take the No.6 jersey.

That means Ben Hunt will start at hooker with Kalyn Ponga remaining at full-back. Harry Grant will start on the bench.
Attempting to fill the boots of Munster is an impossible gig. There is no-one better. And Cherry-Evans is urging whoever steps into the role to focus on their own game.

Dearden has been outstanding for North Queensland all season and has also been with the Maroons camp throughout the series so familiarity will not be an issue.

There is one other change forced on to Slater with Murray Taulagi also ruled out through sickness. So Corey Oates steps in to replace him on the wing.

It remains to be seen if Slater will tinker with his line-up elsewhere. Lessons will have been learnt from the mauling in Perth and there could be positional tweaks.

Pat Carrigan, who has started on the interchange in the last two games, could be in line for a starting berth with Josh Papalii moving to the bench.

Queensland no doubt have an advantage of playing in front of a packed Suncorp Stadium but Slater says his players still have to go out and perform.

"The atmosphere is unrivalled here, especially if you're wearing a Maroon jersey," Slater said. "But they've got to go out and do that justice. It'll be a very unique environment these players will remember for the rest of their lives. But you've got to play well, you've got to earn that."

New South Wales coach Brad Fittler has been forced into one change after Brisbane Broncos prop Payne Haas was ruled out with a shoulder injury.

It was a big blow for the Blues to lose Haas and Jordan McLean was handed the role of replacing him in game three. However cruel luck struck as he suffered a hamstring injury, thus ruling him out.

It means that Newcastle Knights forward Jacob Saifiti moves straight into the starting line-up and will make his State of Origin debut alongside Jake Trbojevic.

Api Koroisau keeps hold of the No.9 jersey after impressing in game two, meaning fellow hooker Damien Cook will start on the bench.

Cameron Murray and Liam Martin will once again make up the second row, with Isaah Yeo playing at lock.

The battle in the forwards has proven to be crucial in both games so far and will no doubt have a huge bearing on the decider as well.

Fittler has stuck with the centres that shone in game two in Perth, Stephen Crichton and Matt Burton, with the fit again Jack Wighton being named as 18th man.

The Blues coach believes the outcome of the game will come down to who out of the two sides wants it more. And he has every confidence in his side.

"Some team is going to come out and want it a bit more than the other," Fittler told reporters. "It will be (us). I've seen the way (the Blues) have trained. I just can't see any other result."

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