NRL.com's Queensland side for Origin III
After some debate in the NRL.com offices over the best line-up for the Maroons as they look to avoid a 3-0 State of Origin series loss, this is who we came up with to play Origin III at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday July 9.
1. Billy Slater (Storm)
Slater turned back the clock with an outstanding performance against the Eels last Sunday. In his first NRL appearance since Origin I, the Queensland fullback produced two tries, six tackle breaks, three try assists and 152 metres to completely overshadow his NSW counterpart Jarryd Hayne.
2. Darius Boyd (Knights)
Boyd had a relatively quiet game in Origin II, but the Knights fullback managed to punch out his best performance in Newcastle colours five days later with a slick 108 metres, one line break, two line break assists and three try assists.
3. Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs)
Inglis was made to work against new centre rival Josh Dugan in Origin II, getting through 24 tackles while still making over 100 metres. He would've been thankful for the bye last weekend and will be raring to making his usual impact for the Maroons in Game Three.
4. Justin Hodges (Broncos)
The Brisbane centre was Queensland's top metre-eater in Game Two, proving to be one of the Maroons' best in an otherwise quiet night in attack with a line break and three tackle breaks. While Hodges will be disappointed his NSW sparring partner Michael Jennings won't be making an appearance in Origin III, the veteran will be right to go come July 9.
5. Dale Copley (Broncos)
With Brent Tate suffering a season ending ACL injury in Game Two, Dale Copley has beaten out Will Chambers and Daniel Vidot to make our team and shouldn't look out of place either. Copley has made 10 line breaks and 30 tackle breaks this season as well as being equal second top try-scorer in the NRL with 11 to his name.
6. Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys)
With Origin II being more of a defensive game, Thurston was again kept very quiet and although he was able to back up last Monday against the Knights, the five-eighth only ran the ball for eight metres and missed four tackles. He will undoubtedly be picked but needs to lift for Game Three.
7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)
Made his Origin starting debut in Game Three and didn't let anyone down despite carrying a highly-publicised knee injury. Cherry-Evans bounced back against the Sharks in a solid fashion on Saturday night after producing two line break assists, two try assists and a tackle break.
8. Josh McGuire (Broncos)
Somewhat of a surprise inclusion for most but the Broncos workhorse absolutely deserves an Origin debut considering his consistent form for Brisbane this year and the unfortunate facial injury to Matt Scott. McGuire has been smashing out 126.2 metres and 36.9 tackles per game this season.
9. Cameron Smith (Storm)
It would make sense if it ever emerged that Queensland and Melbourne captain Cameron Smith was a rugby league robot considering the workload he produces week-in, week-out. Made an unbelievable 55 tackles in Origin II and was at it again four days later against Parramatta when he topped the tackle count out of all of his Storm teammates.
10. Nate Myles (Titans)
There are three guarantees you can count on when it comes to Myles' performance in Origin III. Firstly, he will make over 100 metres; secondly, he will make over 40 tackles with relative ease; and finally, he won't backchat to any referees after spending 10 minutes in the bin for doing so against the Dragons last Sunday.
11. Sam Thaiday (Broncos)
Thaiday was a man on a mission in Origin II and crossed the ditch three days later to give the Warriors an almighty scare. While he was controversially disallowed a try in the last game, Thaiday was close to the Maroons' best with 34 tackles and 113 metres to his name.
12. Matt Gillett (Broncos)
Gillett has been the quiet achiever for the Maroons this season. While he doesn't stand out amongst the other superstars in the team, his numbers tell another story with the Broncos back-rower coming just short of 100 metres and 40 tackles in Origin II. Although he suffered a shoulder injury in the opening minutes of Brisbane's game against the Warriors on Saturday he should be right to go come Wednesday week.
13. Corey Parker (Broncos)
Parker's experience was sorely missed in Origin II after he suffered facial injuries against the Raiders the week before the Maroons went into camp. While he probably won't have played a game between then and Origin III, Meninga would be mad not to pick the 12-game veteran.
14. Jacob Lillyman (Warriors)
The Warriors prop made his return to the Origin arena for the first time since 2011 in Game Two and didn't look out of place. The seven-game representative backed up three days later against several of his Queensland teammates, making 103 metres and 23 tackles in the meantime.
15. Ben Te'o (Rabbitohs)
In what may prove to be his Maroons swansong after signalling his intentions to leave the Rabbitohs at season's end, Te'o will want to be remembered for all the right reasons. Te'o made a considerable impact in Origin II off the bench with his 37 tackles the brightest spot to come from his performance.
16. Aidan Guerra (Roosters)
Guerra was selected in the starting line-up for Origin II in what was only his second game for the Maroons ever. With Corey Parker missing the Roosters back-rower had a massive breach to fill, and alongside Te'o and McQueen, Guerra shared the workload with noticeable effectiveness by racking up a personal 51 metres and 34 tackles.
17. Chris McQueen (Rabbitohs)
McQueen made our Maroons line-up by the skin of his teeth. With the likes of Dave Taylor and Anthony Milford making their claim for the team, the Rabbitohs back-rower would be lining up at Suncorp Stadium on July 9th if it was up to us – although he made very little impact in Origin II after producing a mere 36 metres and 19 tackles.