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The opening 10 minutes of an Origin series is always critical in setting the tone for what's to come and I've got no doubt that the majority of the pressure will be on the Blues when the 2017 series kicks off on Wednesday night.

All the talk in the lead-up has been centred around the view that this is the Blues' chance to break that Queensland dominance and when you start talking like that and the players start hearing it most of them start to believe it as well.

Like they always do the NSW boys will come out fired up and try and bash them early but the Queenslanders know that's coming, they'll weather that and stick to their game structure that has worked so well for them.

It doesn't matter what game you play, if you're dominant in that first 10-20 minute period and keep getting turned away time and again it can really frustrate you and if that happens to NSW those mental demons of the past decade could come back to haunt them.

That's one thing that Queensland has become so good at, turning them away, turning them away and then when their opportunity comes they make the most of it.

You do that, especially to a NSW side that's under a lot of pressure and everyone expects them to win this series, it can really break them down mentally.

If the Blues are to break down the Queensland defence I think they're most likely to have success on the edges – that's where they are most lethal.

They've got some great edge runners in Boyd Cordner, Wade Graham and Jack Bird and if they're going to attack our 'three' and 'four' man, the centres out wide and Anthony Milford are all going to be targeted.

The biggest challenge facing NSW is how they break down that Queensland defence. The Queenslanders have got a structure and everything they know has been put in place and they don't go away from that.

The longer the game goes with not much between the two teams the better the chances Queensland have of winning. We've got the right players there and the calmness that if it gets down to the last five or 10 minutes they know what it takes to get over the line by whatever margin is necessary.

That could be an added pressure for NSW, knowing that probably on paper they've got the better side but the experience and the calmness that is so important in Origin is with the Queensland boys.

‌Origin is won on moments. It's about those big moments in the game and those key moments in the game that you get, nine times out of 10 when Queensland get those opportunities the boys take it.

NSW have had moments in games before but just haven't seemed to be able to cross the try-line or build pressure and if you get turned away, turned away, turned away your confidence drops.

You've practised how you're going to attack and how you're banking on scoring your points and if those plays don't come off then you're scratching your head wondering how to find points.

If Queensland get turned away we just keep going because we might get them in the 79th minute, and that's the difference between the two sides. NSW seem to panic and go away from their structures. They'll try and grab a rabbit out of the hat whereas our key guys stick to what they believe in and what they know works.

If NSW are to win it's going to come off the back of James Tedesco. His performance in Game Three last year on debut was really eye-catching and he is such an elusive runner. He's only a small bloke but he's very strong and he carries himself very well. He's one guy that Queensland will be worried about, bringing the ball back and coming up into good ball he's a very hard guy to defend.

Without Johnathan Thurston being there and given 'Milf' is playing his first game if the Maroons are to win they'll need a big game from Cooper Cronk.

He'll be the guy that puts the points on the board for us and make sure everything is calm and steady and be a real leader.

There's a lot of leadership and experience missing from this Queensland team so he'll really come into his own and do what he always does.

Final thought

For anyone at the ground on Wednesday night or watching via the live stream on I can promise you'll see a Queensland under-20s team that is going to play for each other and do everything they can to end the dominance of NSW. 

As coach of the side this year we've focused mainly on forming a bond that will stay with these guys throughout not only their careers in the game but also their lives. 

Football doesn't always bring you money and success but it brings you friendship. The staff we've had this week have been people I've met through football and been friends with for 20 years and that's what we've impressed on the guys. 

We had a team dinner on Sunday night and seeing the bond between the boys on the bus trip back to the hotel brought a really big smile to my face as I was walking back to my room. 

These guys know that on Wednesday night they're not just playing for themselves and their family but the whole state of Queensland and I'm really confident that Maroons fans will be very proud of the performance they put in against a very talented NSW team.


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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