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Blues players preparing for Origin III.

The opening 20 minutes of Wednesday's State of Origin decider will go a long way toward setting up a rare victory for the Blues in enemy territory.

It's been 15 years since NSW have won a decider at Suncorp Stadium. I played in the 2011 team that fell short under Ricky Stuart, who also coached the series-winning 2005 side featuring Andrew Johns.

Ricky's messaging to our team was focused on starting well. He showed us footage in camp of the 2005 decider at Suncorp where the Blues defended their line early, set after set, for five minutes.

Anthony Minichiello then cleaned up a kick and almost ran the length of the field to relieve the pressure, and NSW went on to win 32-10.

Unfortunately for us in 2011, our first 20 minutes was probably our worst of the series and we lost 34-24. Queensland came out on fire and got the crowd into it. It can be tough once that happens up there.

The Blues must concentrate on the opening exchanges like they did in game two last week. Win the field position battle, do all the little things right, and hopefully they'll be in the contest after 20 minutes.

You've just got to embrace playing at Suncorp and realise the Queensland fans are passionate. They want blood up there.

But I don't think the home crowd advantage will be enough for the Maroons if NSW can execute their game-plan again.

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They were so disciplined in Sydney in key facets - kicking early and chasing hard, making sure to turn the ball over in the right areas.

Blues halfback Nathan Cleary produced one of the best performances I've seen from a guy who was under so much pressure. He got on the front foot, ran the ball, supported and passed for tries.

Five-eighth Cody Walker was fantastic too. The halves looked like a match made in heaven, but it will mean absolutely nothing come Wednesday if they can't get the job done.

Losing Cameron Munster early in game two hurt the Maroons, and they'll be very glad to have him on the park, but I don't think he could have done much to change the result given the Blues' dominance.

Ben Hunt was unlucky to be dropped by Queensland in favour of debutant hooker Harry Grant on the interchange. Like Cleary and Luke Keary for NSW in game one, Hunt wasn't able to show much last week with his team on the back foot all night. 

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His omission will leave the Maroons vulnerable if they lose a half again, but Grant has had a great year and will handle the step up.

I've loved the work of Daniel Saifiti in the NSW front row alongside Payne Haas but I'm tipping Tedesco to be the standout in game three, with the Blues to win 24-16 and secure a series three-peat.

Game three tickets are selling fast. Be a part of the largest crowd in the world since lockdown!


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

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