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How 1919 war hero skipper and 2013 legends are inspiring Maroons

The remarkable comeback of Queensland's 1919 war hero captain after being shot in the lung and the heroics of the 2013 Maroons side that last won a series decider in Sydney are inspiring captain Daly Cherry-Evans and his men ahead of the biggest State of Origin game of their lives.

On Tuesday the Maroons ran out for their captain's run at ANZ Stadium wearing a replica jersey of Queensland's 1919 team which was captained by halfback Duncan Thompson.

Thompson was shot through the lung on the Somme in World War I in 1918 and fought back a year later to captain Queensland, and subsequently went on to be one of the greatest players the state has ever seen.

Cherry-Evans is a highly motivated person as it is, but he said Thompson's story had resonated with both himself and his team ahead of the State of Origin series decider in Sydney on Wednesday night.

"I have a lot of respect for anyone who has worn the Queensland jersey before us, and the fashion that he did it is pretty special," Cherry-Evans said of Thompson.

"We can draw on the toughness and desire to be out on the field at all costs to do the job and get the result for the team like he did, no matter what. It is an inspiring lesson in itself … and here we are talking about Joe Ofahengaue coming back from a few stitches.

Former Queensland captain Duncan Thompson (second from right).
Former Queensland captain Duncan Thompson (second from right). ©NRL Photos

"I have my own personal motivations to play every game of footy. I have always got standards and principles that I hold myself accountable for, but stories like that just add to the motivation."

Cherry-Evans has spoken several times this week about the 2013 Queensland side he was a part of which won 12-10 in Sydney with a defensive display for the ages.

He has told his team about how that the night, where he was on the bench with Josh Papalii and Matt Gillett, proved that the task ahead on Wednesday night "isn't impossible".

"I remember the result as clear as day. We were all in different roles but what we take out of it was being part of an Origin decider in Sydney and how great that occasion was for us," Cherry-Evans said.

“This is completely different circumstances but the motivation, like it was that night, won't be lacking for anyone in this Queensland side. There is obviously a lot on the line and it is going to be a great occasion.

"Understanding and reassuring the boys that this isn't impossible and this is very, very real … that is the mindset that we need to have."

DCE: One game won't define me

Maroons legend Brent Tate was man of the match in the 2013 decider in Sydney, a night where a streaker entered the ANZ Stadium arena late on. The Maroons took their winning streak to eight consecutive series wins on that occasion and Tate told the lessons from that win still have meaning today.

"One thing I have learned about Origin is that it is not about who has got the best team or the best players. At the end of the day it is who is willing to pay the bigger price physically and mentally," Tate said.

"All through that 10 years [of Maroons dominance] I just think we were more willing to do that collectively as a group and a team.

"I remember that night in 2013 and how we defended really hard, and that streaker coming on with a few minutes to go, and then us having to defend our line at the end. You always knew that the guys in the team were willing to pay a price and that is what we did for years and years on end."

Tate said that the 2019 team was in the same boat and also needed to be willing to "pay the price".

Queensland train in 1919 replica jerseys at the captain's run ahead of Origin III.
Queensland train in 1919 replica jerseys at the captain's run ahead of Origin III. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

"They have to be," he said.

"That is the responsibility you have got when you pull that Queensland jersey on. They didn't do that in the second game [in the 38-6 loss in Perth] and it really stood out. You'd like to think it is going to be a completely different team come this third game and I just hope that their mindset is that they are willing to pay whatever price it is to get that win."

The fact that Tate was named man of the match in the 2013 decider also has lessons for the current team, in that no matter what position any of the Maroons 17 players take the field they can still make the ultimate difference to the result. Maroons winger Dane Gagai, with 11 tries in his 12 Origin games, proved that in Origin I where he was also man of the match with a two-try performance and an exemplary game in defence.

"They have all got their jobs to do and their roles to play and Gags has nearly been the MOM in every game that he has played," Tate said.

"Yeah, he is a winger, but every position on the field now is so important and everyone has a real role to play. It gives me a nice smile when a winger gets man of the match let me tell you.

"I don't take too much notice of the second game because I know we are going to be vastly different. There is probably a little bit of pride and ego hurt on all fronts.

Brent Tate in action for the Maroons.
Brent Tate in action for the Maroons. ©NRL Photos

"You'd like to think there would be a hit-back from our guys. The second Origin counts for nothing. Form counts for nothing. It literally is all down to what happens from that kick-off and who is willing to pay the price to win."

It is a price that the Maroons have paid many times before and why they have won 13 of 19 deciders in Origin history, and drawn two others to retain the Origin shield.

Cherry-Evans said he had some understanding of why deciders meant so much to the Maroons.

"Having played in one before with a Queensland side, there is never a lack of desire to win. I know this game means a lot for everyone involved but I just believe in Queensland, the state, the players, the team," he said.

"We enjoy the occasion. We enjoy the moment. The moment is never too big for a Queensland side so it is there for the taking and I can't wait."

Acknowledgement of Country

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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