Walters out to avoid repeat of 2000 Origin III disaster
Kevin Walters insists Queensland still have plenty to play for and there will be no repeat of the 2000 series finale fiasco in game three at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
In the final game of the 2000 series the Blues walloped the Maroons 56-16 in Sydney to complete a series clean sweep in what became known as the blackest day in Queensland's State of Origin history.
Maroons legends, including Gorden Tallis who played in the 2000 series, have expressed concern that Queensland may not have the motivation required to lift for game three, as was the case 18 years ago.
Walters, prior to Tuesday's captain's run, was asked if he had any concerns that same lack of desire could be repeated given that NSW had already won the series.
"Not at all," he said.
"We are looking firstly to win the game and to build for next year and some of the changes we have made are with an eye on that.
"It is a big match for our guys. We don't want to lose the series three-nil and we are very confident this team can take us into next year and the future for a successful Maroons campaign.
"Gordie played in 2000 and the game has changed since then, and Origin has certainly changed, but it is a good reminder of how important this match is particularly at home in front of our fans.
"We want them walking out of here feeling really proud of our team and their performance. No-one likes to be tarred with [a losing clean sweep] sitting on your mantelpiece."
In 2014 the Maroons won game three convincingly after losing the opening two matches of the series and Walters said lessons could be learned from that experience as well.
"Queensland, as a state when it comes to Origin, are very proud and very parochial about our team but that comes from performance," he said.
"The team showed in 2014 when we won game three and went on to win three more series, so it can be done.
"The only way to build for next year is for our players to play well and get a win."
Walters said he had learned a lot about himself and his team in what has been a campaign full of challenges ever since Cameron Smith announced his retirement on the eve of the series.
A suite of injuries prior to game one forced Walters to select players who weren't able to train to full capacity and he said the Maroons needed to be "smarter" in that regard.
"Many different things have arrived on our desk this year from the get-go and you learn more at times under pressure," he said.
"We have learned that you need fit players to compete at Origin level, and in game one we brought some players in that were not quite fit enough.
"Game two was much better and game three we have had no hiccups with our players around injury."
Walters said he would not be tinkering with his starting line-up in the front row and confirmed Josh Papalii and Jai Arrow would run out despite speculation to the contrary. Papalii told NRL.com last week that he was looking forward to playing with the ruthless and aggressive style of former Maroons forward Carl Webb.
"Those two have earned their right. Josh Papalii and Jai Arrow have both played front row for their respective clubs and done a good job there as well," Walters said.
"I am very excited for both of them to get their opportunity to start for Queensland.
"I watched [Arrow] play round two, and there is no bigger team in the NRL than the Warriors, and I thought he stood up to those guys in what was one of his better games of the season.
"It is up to him now to make the most of that [starting opportunity]. Josh has been one of our better forwards in the opening two games and can be quite damaging with the ball and without. If he can come up with a performance like Carl Webb did a couple of years back that would be pretty inspiring."
Walters said he was confident his new left centre/winger combination of Dane Gagai and Corey Oates would handle anything the Blues threw at them.
On the other side Valentine Holmes and Will Chambers will line up together in another new configuration.
Walters said he wanted to see his team defend "a little smarter than we did in game two with fifth and last options".
He said he did not expect the Blues to take their foot off the throttle as they target a clean sweep.
"From what I have been seeing and hearing they have got the broom out, haven't they," he said.
Match: Maroons vs Blues
Game 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Nine Network