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Maroons fullback Valentine Holmes.

The numbers told an alarming story for Queensland in their Origin II loss but in one area in they racked up the worst tally on record.

Since thorough run metre measurements were first recorded in 2004, never in an Origin match has a side finished with as few as the 18 kick return metres Queensland recorded in their 34-10 loss on Wednesday.

The Blues finished the same match with 178 kick return metres, and the disparity of 160 metres was the third biggest in the 17 years records have been kept.

The biggest, of 170 metres, was by a Jarryd Hayne-inspired Blues in a match they ended up losing 24-14 in 2009 despite NSW racking up their best-recorded kick return tally.

It's important to note that kick return figures listed in publicly available match centres on NRL.com include returns from set kicks, such as kick-offs, with middle forwards taking most of those runs.

NRL.com Stats has stripped it back to just kick returns in general play.

The second-lowest tally since 2004 was also by Queensland but more than double the figure of 18 recorded on Wednesday, when they ran for 37 metres returning kicks in a game they actually won, 26-16, in 2016.

There are three main factors for Queensland's almost non-existent kick returns and the Blues' comparative dominance.

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First is the NSW dominance through the middle and in terms of possession, allowing them to camp for long periods on the Maroons line so that when the Queensland backs were able to field kicks, they were immediately hammered on their own line.

Second was the kicking prowess of Nathan Cleary and Cody Walker, constantly putting the ball behind the Maroons backs with long kicks which allowed the likes of speedster Josh Addo-Carr to streak ahead and force line drop-outs.

Third was the potency of James Tedesco and Daniel Tupou in particular from the backfield, combining for more than 450 total metres and outperforming the likes of Val Holmes, Phil Sami and Xavier Coates who had to take the tough carries.

While Addo-Carr drew the headlines for his second straight try-scoring double, Tupou – available for the Blues as there is no clash with Tonga games this post-season – was the Blues' best from the backfield.

"I just like to do my job and fly under the radar. It's something I've loved to do over the years, I don't get sick of it. I get in there and do all the hard work," Tupou said.

This Wednesday's decider is likely to be his last Origin for the foreseeable future as he returns to Tonga duty next year – something he was up-front about before the series started and reaffirmed this week.

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"I just knew if the opportunity came about again I would take it. I never take it for granted. I'm glad the opportunity came about," Tupou said.

"We had that chat with Freddie [Brad Fittler] and I told him I'd stick solid with Tonga and the special bond we created over there."

Fittler praised the understated impact Tupou had from the backfield.

"He does that sort of role for the Roosters, we just have to make sure we support him," Fittler said.

"He's like a front-rower. We just have to make sure we respect a bit more what he does and help him out a bit because he did so much work for us."

 

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