Cameron Munster's likely return for the State of Origin decider in Brisbane is the key to the Maroons winning the series.
All credit to NSW on Wednesday night in Sydney. They played some brilliant footy. Nathan Cleary at halfback answered his critics with an outstanding kicking game and he was also excellent in general play.
The Blues forwards dominated as well with some of the bell-ringing tackles by Jake Trbojevic making a real difference.
Losing Munster in the first few minutes was a terrible blow for Queensland. He is the best footballer on either team.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 3 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
When Munster gets the ball they have two defenders on him, at least, because they don’t know what he is going to do.
He controls the game in a different way but he is very much in the Cameron Smith mould in the sense that he can dictate how a game goes on his own.
The Maroons missed his kicking game and defensive talk on the left edge. It was an area where NSW made plenty of inroads.
He has protocols this week that he will have to meet but Wayne Bennett was confident after the game that he would be right. The good thing for Munster is that he does not have a history of head knocks.
With Munster back, the Maroons will be a better team and a more confident team. His vibe rubs off on everybody.
Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons
Yes, the Maroons will be disappointed with the way they played. The big thing for them is that they will be back in Brisbane next week with a crowd of 40,000 behind them at Suncorp Stadium.
That could be enough to get them over the line, and I believe it will be.
They will also welcome back Christian Welch in the front-row. He was outstanding in Adelaide.
I don’t think Bennett will, or should, make too many changes. Phil Sami had an unhappy night and his position may get looked at with Edrick Lee waiting in the wings. Edrick hasn’t played in a while which could be the only thing working against him.
There will be calls for Harry Grant to be given a go at hooker but I think a decider at Suncorp Stadium is a lot of pressure for a young fella.
It will be like a grand final so I would be sticking with Jake Friend because he has been there and done that.
I’m glad to see that Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Payne Haas will be available for the decider. Their little set-to was harmless and there wasn’t much in it. I didn’t even think they deserved to be sin-binned to be honest.
Bennett expects Munster to play at Suncorp
It was good to see two passionate young forwards show how much Origin meant to them.
I am not in favour of "bringing back the biff" but in the scheme of things it was a minor scuffle. It wasn’t planned like Tommy’s Cattledog call. It was just heat of the moment.
Wayne was relaxed in the dressing room after the loss and even cracking jokes with his players. The message there is that he will make sure the players draw a line under what happened at ANZ Stadium, so long as they learn from it.
He knows his team was well below its best and that loss will give them a reality check. It’s not time to panic for Queensland.
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Gus Gould said it well after the game that it was a great display by NSW but that it will be a different story in Brisbane. NSW don't have a great record in deciders up here.
In 2001 Wayne had Allan Langer to get the side home in the decider. This time he won’t have Alf to lace his boots but he will hopefully have Munster.
Like Langer, he can drag a whole side with him and with a home crowd cheering them on I believe Queensland can get up by two points.
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The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.