Sweet revenge for Walters and Smith
The Maroons were said to be chasing a Game Three victory for Queensland great Johnathan Thurston, but coach Kevin Walters has revealed the true motivation behind their stunning 22-6 victory over the Blues – revenge.
Queensland were thrashed on their own turf in Game One, losing by 22 points in what was the Maroons' largest loss at Suncorp Stadium.
It prompted mass team changes from Queensland and many in New South Wales believed the series was already won for the Blues.
But that loss hurt the Maroons – badly.
Atonement became the flavour of the month for Queensland with Walters preaching to his side that they needed to make Queenslanders across the world proud, and the one way to do that would be to win the series from a game down with their backs against the wall.
A miraculous Game Two victory in Sydney followed for the Maroons, but still New South Wales were favourites heading into Game Three.
Queensland's dynasty was said to be over and Wednesday night was meant to be blue, but the Maroons would not be beaten.
Dominating from start to finish, Queensland out-intensified and out-executed New South Wales in every facet of the game.
Now the proud winners of 11 Origin series in 12 years, the Maroons have a new range of faces making their presence felt in the Origin arena.
For Walters, this is what makes him so proud, knowing just how far his side has come over the past two months.
"I'm really proud. What a great night for all Queenslanders, particularly with what happened after Game One here," Walters said.
"I know myself and the rest of the people involved in the team were extremely disappointed with what we threw up in Game One.
"The players were [disappointed] as well and Cameron [Smith] would vouch for that. We had to fix that up.
"We were better for Game Two but we had to be better again for Game Three and that's the proudest thing for me, how well these guys played tonight under a lot of pressure.
"We've had eight guys come into the squad this year for different reasons. It's absolutely outstanding to win the series."
As good as young guns Cameron Munster, Valentine Holmes and Jarrod Wallace were for the Maroons in Game Three, no one came close to captain Cameron Smith.
Smith rediscovered his running game, with his 112 running metres a season-high tally that almost quadrupled his total for the series.
The 34-year-old was in everything and his performance saw him presented with the man of the match award, a just reward for his efforts.
Walters was almost lost for words when describing Smith's performance, with the Origin-winning coach in awe of his captain.
"What can I say about the bloke sitting beside me?" Walters said while grinning at Smith in the chair next to him.
"His first half of Origin... I don't think I've seen a more dominant performance from anyone and he's played 42 Origins.
"When the big games are on and the big players stand up, it certainly helps, especially when you're sitting up in the coach's box."
And Smith certainly did stand up, but it is not the first time.
The Melbourne Storm hooker has been an integral part of each of Queensland's 11 series victories over the past 12 years, but even for him this year's triumph is one of the more satisfying wins he has experienced during his illustrious career.
"This would be one of the more pleasing series victories for myself. I think as 'Kev' mentioned, given the amount of changes we had throughout the series and the fact we used 28 players," Smith said.
"In my Origin career that's probably the most players we've used in one year.
"To be able to beat a Blues side that was unchanged for the whole series is a special effort."