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Plenty of pressure on Maroons to perform in Origin III

There are a number of reasons why you can expect Queensland to lift for Origin III.

They will be joined by NSW at four-a-piece as far as sweeping the series is concerned.

Being swept 3-0 in Brisbane, especially after honouring Arthur Beetson at the start of this year’s campaign, will leave a sour taste in the mouths of every Queenslander.

And more importantly, Queensland players might well relinquish their spot in the Australian team to NSW players at the end of the year.

Subsequently there’s plenty at stake for the Maroons.

It’s amazing to think that the Blues have ended Queensland’s eight year reign by scoring just 18 points in two games.

Defence has played an important factor in their success, but down the track we’ll look back at the 2014 series and come to the conclusion that injuries cruelled the Maroons.

That might be a bit harsh on NSW, however not having to face the likes of Cooper Cronk, Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday was a bonus.

Unfortunately for the Blues that impressive trio takes the field for Game 3.

And on this occasion it’s NSW who have injury worries with Michael Jennings, Will Hopoate, Brett Morris and Anthony Watmough sidelined.

Had no hesitation tipping Queensland in the Games 1 and 2 as the head always rules the heart when it comes to tipping, but it was pleasing to see the Blues win both games.

As well as NSW defended in Game 1, the loss of Cooper Cronk would have freshened the wind in their sails.

Queensland’s preparations for Game 2 were severely disrupted, but they only have themselves to blame because come game time they butchered chances after seemingly having control of the match.

Forget that rubbish that the Maroons had to wait until the last minute before naming their side for Game 2.

Do you think that it would have taken five minutes to put the names and the numbers on the back of the jumpers?

No chance.

They knew days in advance what their side was.

And the way Daly Cherry-Evans snarled at the media when questioned if he would be named in the side for Game 2 was an indication that the Maroons were on edge.

On paper, it’s hard to believe that NSW has won the series as Queensland clearly have the better players.

What’s that saying.

A champion team will beat a team of champions.

How prophetic when assessing 2014.

Both teams will be desperate for victory tonight at a frenzied Suncorp Stadium.

Should the Maroons win they will boast that injuries cost them in Games 1 and 2, and it’s hard to argue that point.

With the players and depth at their disposal Queensland is capable of winning the series in 2015.

In contrast, should NSW win it will prove once and for all that they’ve finally got Queensland’s measure and that father time might be catching up with a few players.

The return of Cronk is huge and he only has to perform at 80 per cent to cause the Blues problems.

Apart from Jarryd Hayne, Josh Dugan, Josh Morris, Daniel Tupou, Greg Bird, Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah, it’s hard to settle on any other NSW player with the attacking class to trouble Queensland.

Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson have been solid without setting the world on fire.

James McManus could be in for a long night as he hasn’t exactly had a stellar season, while the likes of Trent Merrin, Aaron Woods and James Tamou need to justify their selection.

Look at the Queensland side and you’ve got the likes of Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Daly Cherry-Evans, Sam Thaiday, Cameron Smith, David Taylor and Matt Gillett who can wreak havoc with the football in their hands.

Will Chambers is on debut and after appearing in the headlines for the wrong reason leading up to the match he might see a lot of traffic come his way – both on the ground and in the air.

May not have picked the winner for Games 1 and 2, but it would be stunning if the Maroons didn’t get the cash on this occasion.

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