State of Origin III Preview
Queensland V New South Wales
Wednesday, July 12, 8:15pm (AEST), Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

It’s being billed as one of the biggest Origin games of all-time and The Wolf finds it hard to disagree. NSW will need to overcome an awful record in Origin deciders at Suncorp Stadium, while the Maroons will need to wrap up the series without future immortal Johnathan Thurston and Queensland stalwart Darius Boyd. Queensland have won 10 of the last 11 series, while NSW haven’t won a series since 2014.

Selection Notes
Queensland have been forced to make changes to their side due to injuries suffered by both Johnathan Thurston and Darius Boyd. Cameron Munster comes into the side, replacing Thurston to form an all-Melbourne Storm spine. Michael Morgan moves off the bench to replace Boyd in the centres, while Broncos halfback Ben Hunt comes onto the bench as the Maroons utility. Fullback Billy Slater sent a scare through the Maroons camp after rolling his ankle at training but is expected to take his spot in the No.1 jersey. The Blues have had the luxury of naming the same 17 for the three matches of the series – the first time NSW have kept an unchanged line-up through a Origin series since 1996. Blues skipper Boyd Cordner has been battling a calf injury in the lead-up to the decider, but is expected to take his spot in the side.

Queensland have won 59 Origins with New South Wales claiming 49 and three matches drawn. The Maroons have won 19 series to 12. The Maroons have won 10 of the last 11 series and have won the last two series. Queensland have won the last six deciders including four in Brisbane.

NSW have dominated the majority of this series yet the series is locked at one apiece with a decider at Suncorp to settle the series. The Blues decimated the Maroons in the opener at Suncorp and had Queensland on toast in Game 2 before imploding with selfish play and cowardly tactics. Queensland have won 10 of the last 11 series. NSW have scored 18 or more points just twice under Laurie Daley. The Maroons have scored 18 points in four of their last seven. In terms of club form, NSW have eight players from Top 4 clubs and seven from the bottom four while Queensland have eight from Top 4 teams and two from bottom four teams.

State of Origin Odds

Key Matchup
Cooper Cronk v Mitchell Pearce. It could potentially be Cronk’s last Origin series if he decides to hang up the boots at season’s end. Queensland will field an all-Storm spine with Cronk directing the side around the park in Thurston’s absence. It will also be up to Cronk to take the pressure off his Storm teammate Cameron Munster, who will be making his Origin debut, attempting to fill the big boots of Thurston. If NSW lose this series, it could spell the end of Pearce’s Origin career. NSW should have won Game 2, but neither he or halves partner James Maloney took the game by the scruff of the neck. He needs to control the game with his long kicking and make Queensland’s backs work hard to get the ball of their territory. Pearce has now played 17 Origins for just the five victories and another failure will be a bitter pill to swallow.

Stats That Matter

– The Maroons have not started longer than $1.70 at Suncorp since Game 2, 2006.

– Queensland have won the last six deciders including four in Brisbane.

– NSW have won just two of the 11 all-time deciders at Suncorp.

– Over the last six years Queensland have won 13 of 20 matches and have claimed 10 of the last 12 live matches in Brisbane.

– Queensland have made 63 more tackles this series and have missed 23 more.

– NSW have won the kick metres convincingly in both games.

– Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce has played 17 Origins for five wins.

– Maroons debutant Ben Hunt was dropped to Ipswich this season with Brisbane 3-7 with him as a starter and 7-0 with someone else in the No.7.

– There have been just three field goals kicked in the last 26 matches.

– Three of the last four deciders have topped 40 points.

Final Thoughts
The Wolf can’t ignore the value around Queensland as outsiders and especially with the +2 start. The loss of Johnathan Thurston is a massive blow to the Maroons, but winning twice at Suncorp Stadium in a series is never an easy feat and history hasn’t been kind to the Blues, winning just two of the 11 all-time deciders at Suncorp. Self-doubt might have crept into the Blues side after they should have wrapped up the series in Sydney and the injury cloud around NSW captain Boyd Coydner is hardly the ideal preparation. The Wolf says to back the Maroons with the start and by a margin of 1-12 points.

How It’s Shaping Up
Queensland by 2

Best Bet
Queensland +2 ($1.91)

Best First/Last Tryscorer
Dane Gagai ($13)

Other Recommended Bets
Queensland 1-12 ($3.10)

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