Stuart's secret plans to upstage 'scary' Maroons
Queensland's world-class 'spine' holds the greatest danger for NSW in tonight's decider according to Blues coach Ricky Stuart, who expects them to lift another level for what is being billed as the biggest game in Origin history.
And while Stuart admits Queensland are expected to win Wednesday night's decider at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium because of their high quality team, that hasn't stopped him going all out in a thorough and meticulous eight-month preparation to end the five-year Maroon domination.
While much of Stuart's planning and blueprint for NSW has been made public, Game Three preparations have been very much behind closed doors with Stuart likely to keep his final 17-man side a secret until close to kick-off.
"The scary thing for me is that Johnathan Thurston, Cam Smith, Darren Lockyer and Billy Slater will all lift to another level," Stuart said.
"They have four to five of the best players in the world. I expect them to play their best game of football.
"Queensland have said it's their best preparation out of all games … that also does scare me. But I have belief in my team.
"We have to be better than game two. We have to have every individual a percentage or two better because otherwise we won't win the game.
"We haven't overlooked the capabilities of this (Maroons) team. They haven't fluked (five straight series wins). They're a great footy team and we need to do everything we possibly can to even think we're going to be in the game."
Stuart said Queensland had also been further boosted for Game Three with the inclusion of Justin Hodges for his first Origin match in two years.
"They are a better team this time with Justin Hodges," Stuart said. "He is a big game player and he's tough.
"He will give them a lot of confidence; his inclusion is a huge bonus to Queensland. It's another obstruction for us. He is ultra-competitive."
Stuart said the pressure was on the Maroons to snatch the fairy tale ending that awaits tonight's winner, with Queensland wanting a winning farewell for its inspirational skipper Darren Lockyer and NSW desperate to end five years of Origin embarrassment.
"We're not expected to win this and there's no pressure on us about winning," he said.
"We just need to play a good game of football to try and be in the competition. They've got the best players in the world which is why they should win the match."
But while Stuart played down the pressure on his team, Blues captain Paul Gallen and Maroons coach Mal Meninga disagreed.
"There's pressure on both of us - we're facing six series defeats, that's a bit of pressure, but they're playing for their biggest name in Queensland which is a lot of pressure as well," Gallen said.
Meninga said: "We know the enormity of the event and they do as well. We don't put any pressure on ourselves at all.
"We just have to go out there and play to our potential really and that's about it.
"Nothing really matters until the game's on tomorrow night. That's the way that we look at it, that's the way we prepare."