Maroons pair ready for onslaught
Maroons winger Dane Gagai insists his injured leg is ready for whatever the Blues throw at him on Wednesday night while coach Kevin Walters says Nate Myles will be thrust straight back into the ferociousness of Origin's opening minutes after both players came through Sunday's training session.
The Maroons ran an opposed session against the Queensland under-20s on Sunday morning with both Gagai and Myles showing no ill effects of the quadriceps and knee injuries that limited their contributions earlier in the week.
Gagai's preparation for Game Three has mirrored almost exactly that of Game Two where he was troubled by the same quadriceps injury only to go out on game-day and score a hat-trick to take his series tally to four.
After missing Game Two with a knee injury Myles has been cleared to make his 31st appearance for the Maroons and Walters said he won't be held back, indicating he will start when Origin matches are traditionally their most willing.
"Nate has had a couple of weeks out with his knee but he assures us he is right to go and we take him on that and then unleash him again Wednesday night," Walters said.
"The start is very important for both teams. You've got to absorb a lot of punishment and a lot of aggressive play from both sides so he's the ideal person to have in your side to carry out those sorts of instructions and he'll be doing that for us.
"It's great news for Queensland because everyone knows how important he is to this side. Particularly on Wednesday night, we know it's going to be very much a forward dominated game and Nate's one of those players that really enjoy playing in that sort of arena."
Far removed from the physical battering Myles will be subjected to, Gagai is ready to be targeted in his own way by the Blues playmakers out wide.
With tall timber on the other side of the field in Greg Inglis and Corey Oates the Blues are likely to look left with their high kicks to the corner to a winger who may be down slightly on his optimal power.
Doubt still remains as to whether Jack Bird or Matt Moylan will partner James Maloney in the New South Wales halves but whichever way Blues coach Laurie Daley goes Gagai says that he and Justin O'Neill will be ready if they want to target Queensland's right edge defence.
"I wouldn't have a clue what they're going to do but if they do decide to come down our way I'm feeling confident with Justin O'Neill and 'Coops' (Cooper Cronk) there on my inside so anything they throw at us I'll feel comfortable handling," Gagai said.
"If they come down our side we're going to do everything we can to shut them down and keep them out. Make it a competition between their left edge and our right edge.
"They're going to be throwing a lot at us, they've done that before, and they've got a few new players in there that can cause a threat but we just have to make sure we're communicating with each other."
With five tries in his first three Origin appearances for Queensland if Gagai can maintain his strike-rate of crossing the stripe in every Origin match he has played he will equal the record for most tries scored in a series.
Ryan Girdler and Lote Tuqiri scored five tries apiece for NSW and Queensland respectively in the 2000 series with Gagai now one shy of equalling that mark.
With his club team the Knights struggling this season Gagai was under pressure at the start of the series to retain his position in the team and even after his Game Two heroics doesn't consider himself to be a selection certainty.
"This jersey doesn't belong to me," Gagai said earnestly.
"I treat it like it's the last time I'm going to wear it because there are a lot of great players that have worn it before me and I'm just representing this jersey at this time.
"I can't predict what's going to happen in the future, I can only focus on what's going on now and that's Wednesday night.
"I'm always grateful and privileged to be a part of such a great team. Being a kid growing up sitting back and watching it on TV, I've still got to pinch myself knowing that I'm actually a part of it now.
"It's a great feeling being around such great players and to be around guys like Johnathan Thurston and see how professional they are and the competitiveness still in them is an inspiration.
"I'll just try to learn as much as I can from them and then hopefully have as good a career as they do."