NSW chase first Origin series sweep in 18 years
Brad Fittler’s New South Wales are bidding for their first State of Origin rugby league series clean sweep over Queensland in 18 years in Wednesday’s final game in Brisbane.
The Blues have already wrapped up the fierce interstate series after wins in Melbourne (22-12) and Sydney (18-14) in former Australia captain Fittler’s first year as coach.
It has been a remarkable turnaround for NSW who had won only one of the previous 11 Origin series in a formidable era of dominance by the Maroons.
It has been a troubled series for Queensland coach Kevin Walters with the retirements of greats Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Darius Boyd and injury to their new skipper Greg Inglis, ruling him out of this week’s final match.
Another Maroons icon, fullback Billy Slater, will lead his state for the first time in the last of his 31 Origin appearances in his representative swansong.
Daly Cherry-Evans, Corey Oates and Tim Glasby have been called into the injury-hit Queensland team. Cherry-Evans ended three years in the Origin wilderness after being recalled to replace Ben Hunt at scrum-half.
But it won’t be all plain sailing for NSW in the Suncorp Stadium cauldron where they have won only twice in their last 11 matches there going back to 2010.
Twelve of Fittler’s Origin series rookies will be playing their first interstate match at the intimidating ground.
Stand-off James Maloney has been one of the Blues’ outstanding players in the series and says his team refuse to take their foot off the pedal.
Asked about the repercussions a clean sweep would have on Queensland, Maloney said: “It has to do some damage to them, surely.
“In Queensland’s dominance they only ever did it once (win 3-0 in 2010). To go and do it, it would have to have some impact. What that is, I don’t know.”
NSW captain and back-rower Boyd Cordner has dispelled doubts over his calf strain for the final game after training with the team for the first time this week.
NSW – James Tedesco; Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts, Josh Ado-Carr; James Maloney, Nathan Cleary; David Klemmer, Damien Cook, Paul Vaughan; Boyd Cordner (capt), Tyson Frizell; Jack de Belin.
Interchange: Tariq Sims, Jake Trbojevic, Angus Crichton, Tyrone Peachey.
Queensland – Billy Slater (capt); Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai, Will Chambers, Corey Oates; Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans; Jai Arrow, Andrew McCullough, Josh Papalii; Gavin Cooper, Felise Kaufusi; Josh McGuire.
Interchange – Ben Hunt, Jarrod Wallace, Coen Hess, Tim Glasby, Christian Welch (one to be omitted).
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