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Maroons forward Josh Papalii.

Canberra and Queensland prop Josh Papalii openly admitted he took the Maroons' savage 36-8 loss in Origin II in Perth personally.

"I had to. We were pretty poor in Perth," the veteran of 15 Origin games said after his side restored respect in the much closer 26-20 loss in game three in Sydney.

"Well, we definitely turned up. It's just a shame we couldn't get the win.

"It's just frustrating because the way we played in Perth, we had to play much better this time."

It was Papalii's 76th-minute try, running off a short pass from halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, that drew Queensland level 20-20 after being down by 12 points on the hour mark.

"We dropped our heads a little in the second half but the belief was always there. Once we scored that first one [Josh McGuire] we had momentum and I knew we'd score again pretty quick," Papalii said.

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And as for that four-pointer, it was just his second of his Origin career. The first was back in game three of the 2015 series.

"It'd been four years so I'll take it," Papalii said.

"We were just unlucky afterwards that we couldn't ice it."

But the ANZ Stadium showing was a marked improvement on what the whole team offered in Perth.

Papalii's figures for games two and three were comparable, despite the fact he felt he had misfired in Perth.

Papalii scores try which gets Maroons level

Both games he made 10 runs, broke three tackles and made 30 tackles. The difference was that he ran for 35 metres further in Sydney than in Perth and was over a second quicker in his play-the-balls.

But better stats were of little concern as the 112kg Raider stood with bags of ice on both legs in the ANZ Stadium dressing rooms.

His primary focus was the three debutants in Christian Welch, Ethan Lowe and Corey Norman.

"It's just a shame we couldn't get the win for all the boys that debuted this year, especially those three who were with us tonight – it was a decider after all, and would have been a great memory for them," he said.

"Lowie was so good," he said of the South Sydney forward who came off the extended bench into the starting 13.

He also had to take over the goal-kicking from the absent Kalyn Ponga and slotted four from four, including the pressure conversion to level the scores at 20-all.

On top of all that, Lowe ploughed through 52 tackles, the most by any player on the ground.

"We didn’t have the best preparation with Matt [Gillett] having to pull out at the last minute. Lowie came in for the captain's run and filled that second-row spot pretty well," Papalii said.

"It shows we've got something to work on now. The future is indeed bright. But for the moment we're soaking up a loss."

Papalii's focus now turns to kicking the Green Machine back into gear after Canberra's recent hot-and-cold form, starting with Sunday's assignment in Wollongong against the Dragons.