Monday Morning Halfback: Origin basics
ANZ Stadium will be a powder keg of noise and emotion on Wednesday night, but Queensland's dressing shed will be eerily quiet when the two minute bell goes to alert the Maroons it is game time.
While a parochial crowd is hitting fever pitch fuelled by weeks of hype, endless column inches, highlight reels and cold amber ales, tucked a stone's throw away from the commotion, just a short walk up the player tunnel into the inner sanctum, there will be barely a whisper.
Such is the way with big games, players will be going about their last minute rituals all but left to their own thoughts and insecurities. There will be nervous energy and movement in the sheds, but it will all be done in relative silence defying the craziness and the intense battle that is about to unfold.
Then a familiar voice will start talking, not in sentences and not to anyone in particular, but more forceful dot points that will echo around the Queensland sheds.
"Lots of talk", "kick chase", "pressure on their halves", "stick your tackles", there might also be a bit of colourful language in between for good measure.
The voice will be of Maroons captain Cameron Smith as he paces back and forth, ready to lead his team out, just reinforcing the most simplistic of rugby league messages. School boy stuff, but in the biggest matches, the simple stuff is what differentiates the good teams from the great. And there is no doubt this Maroons side is one of the best rugby league as ever seen.
Smith knows it better than most, he's the master.
When he leads Queensland out onto ANZ Stadium, he'll become the most capped player in Origin history, surpassing the man who insisted on the same simplistic approach to the game's biggest arena, Darren Lockyer.
On Wednesday, every movement, every play and every decision will be watched and analysed by 80,000 in the stadium and millions more at home. It is the ultimate test for any rugby league player. A high octane pressure cooker to challenge the strongest of mind. But amidst all the noise, all the vibrato and all the weeks of build-up, while everyone awaits the fireworks in the cauldron, the final message rarely changes from the most fundamental of rugby league basics.
It pervades the dressing rooms, they are the best of the best, and yet this message will be the last thing they hear before game time, Origin time.
A message they might first have heard at an under 8s game.
"It is not a matter of skill, Origin, it is about the mind. It is keeping it simple, but doing those things really well," Lockyer told NRL.com previously.
"No doubt it is the best of the best, but it goes in reverse in terms of doing the little things really well with intensity.
"A lot of Origin games are so close, that it is won on that cover tackle, or the moment a player dived on the ball. It is the little things that probably get missed by the public, that make the difference."
It is why the final message from the skipper is the most important. When the lungs are screaming and the game hangs in the balance, it's the simple things that matter most.
Lots of talk, kick-chase, stick your tackles.
If Cam Smith does that, there's a fair chance his side will be in the hunt, if the Maroons do that, there's a fair chase they'll win.
Broncos field lessons
Two weeks in a row with the game in the balance, the Broncos have been in perfect position for a field goal, only to fail at the critical moment. It has cost them dearly. Both playmakers Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford have missed chances to take the game by the scruff of the neck. But Broncos fans shouldn't be worried, you can hardly get better experience than going through this period. It is a tough lesson, but come finals time, we'll see a much more deliberate Broncos outfit and probably a different result if the opportunity comes knocking.
Malta announce international
Malta Rugby League has announced its national team, the Malta Knights, will face Thailand in a sanctioned international this October in Chiang Mai.
The Inaugural Ajan Vinai Sucharit Memorial Trophy will be played in honour of the first Indigenous Thailand National Head Coach Mr Sucharit, who passed suddenly in November 2015.
Malta are currently sitting in 18th place in RLIF world rankings.
Women's historic match in Lebanon
The first official women's rugby league match in the Middle East will take place in Jounieh on June 5 when Jounieh RLFC Hummingbirds play AUB Women in an historic match at the Fouad Chehab Stadium.
Sol Mokdad, AUB Women's RL coach, told the RLIF website: "I am honoured to be part of this showcase event for women's rugby league in Lebanon and the region. There has been a lot of hard work done on and off the field to bring this to fruition and our ladies should be proud of their achievements."
The Hummingbirds and AUB have been training since October and the LRLF expects to gain support from NGOs and other civil society organisations to support this important project.
Canada making strides
We've mentioned before in this column about rugby league in Canada and how they'll have a team in the English Super League soon, if all things go to plan.
The game keeps getting better with the Canada Wolverines announcing they are set to play seven games against International opposition in 2016. It will be the biggest rugby league season in Canada's short history.
The highlight will be a test match against Fiji in Hawaii as part of a double header with Samoa and Tonga.