It’s great to be back in camp this week and to see the excitement on the boys’ faces as we start to prepare for Wednesday's State of Origin decider.
Coming into camp we face a bit of a disrupted preparation due to the Dragons v Manly game on Monday night, which involved eight of the 20 players named in the Blues squad – and also some untimely injuries to key players.
As of Wednesday afternoon as I write this column we are yet to hit the training paddock as we endeavour to get the boys healthy and free of injury. It’s not a bad thing though. We know all our guys will be fit for Wednesday's game at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and we need them fresh and ready so a few extra days off their feet I think is a blessing in disguise.
We have picked a 20-man squad to cover a few blokes but we expect all to be fit. This game is going to be huge: the series is up for grabs; we are chasing our first win in six years; and it is Qld captain Darren Lockyer’s last Origin match.
It’s shaping up to be the biggest and most important Origin game we have seen. The sell-out crowds; the publicity; the hype surrounding this game is awesome ... it’s Origin at its best. I said in my column last week that while we were good in Game II, we need to be even better in Game III.
The 50/50 calls probably won’t go our way in Queensland and fingers crossed our officials don’t get caught up in the Lockyer hype. If we can get an even share in possession and complete our sets of six then we are in with a big shot.
Sounds simple but it’s a simple game. Sometimes we can over-complicate things but time in possession and hanging onto the ball are so important. These two things set up the outcome.
One thing we cannot do is give Queensland an early lead. They will be pumped up and will try to blow us away early ... we’ll be ready. We need to get in the arm wrestle, play up-tempo ourselves and hang with them. If we are in the game at the 70th minute mark we’re in the fight and a great chance of upsetting this fairy tale for Queensland.
It’s going to take a huge effort across the board but the rewards and personal satisfaction at the end of this are huge. Fans will remember this game forever. We need to leave a lasting memory of the night the Blues turned it all around.
It would be remiss of me not to wish retiring Queensland captain Darren Lockyer all the best for his last game. Even though I hope NSW win, Locky has been an ornament to our game and will be missed in the Origin arena. He has been brilliant for Queensland for a long period and I congratulate him on his success and wish him well on Wednesday.
Emotions need to be taken out of the game for us. We know the job at hand; we know how good we must play to win. It's still a week out from the game and it’s all about timing. We need our boys ready next Wednesday, not tonight ... and ready to play the game of their lives!
Go the Blues!