NSW are chasing their first State of Origin clean sweep since the 2000 series but will have to do so with a new halves combination and another change in the front row.
And they'll have to do it by winning three games in Queensland for the first time in Origin history after the game was relocated from Newcastle to the Gold Coast due to the worsening COVID situation in Sydney.
Eels playmaker Mitch Moses makes his Origin debut in Game Three and will partner with Raiders pivot Jack Wighton, who has seen limited game time this series off the bench.
The Blues are already ahead of another record set by their NSW forebears in 2000, their 70-point advantage after two games exceeding the 62-point margin NSW enjoyed in winning that series.
Paul Green's first series in charge of the Maroons has been a nightmare thus far but the return of Kalyn Ponga at fullback presents a chink of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Ponga's speed and creativity, plus the pace of debutant Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, give the Queenslanders a shot at adding to their paltry tally of just one try so far this series.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 3 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Blues: No late changes for Brad Fittler's team.
The loss of halves Nathan Cleary (shoulder) and Jarome Luai (knee) is a significant blow and the choice of the Moses/Wighton combination is designed to cause as little disruption to the game plan as possible.
Api Koroisau takes over Wighton's role in the No.14 jersey while the loss of prop Daniel Saifiti (ribs) sees Storm veteran Dale Finucane promoted to the starting side and has also been named vice-captain.
Wests Tigers youngster Stefano Utoikamanu was left out 24 hours before kick-off when the squad was reduced to 19 players. Clint Gutherson was the last man cut an hour before game time and Nicho Hynes is 18th man.
The playmakers set to take charge in State of Origin III
Maroons: No late changes for Paul Green on game day.
Forward Jai Arrow has been suspended for game three and is facing a $35,000 fine for allegedly breaching COVID-19 protocols by bringing an "unregistered guest" into Maroons camp.
Arrow has been accused of breaking NRL biosecurity rules by inviting the guest into the team hotel and was served with a breach notice by the game's governing body on Thursday.
Green confirmed on Monday that Tino Fa'asuamaleaui would return to the starting side at lock and Thomas Flegler will join the bench.
David Fifita failed in his challenge at the judiciary and will sit out the series finale with 18th man Francis Molo taking Fifita's place on the interchange.
Key personnel changes have resulted in a speedier, more creative backline with Kalyn Ponga returning, Valentine Holmes shifting to the wing and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow handed his debut in the centres.
The North Queensland teen's call-up means Kurt Capewell can shift to a more suitable spot in the back row, adding starch to the pack at the same time, while the return from injury of AJ Brimson in the No.14 role will also provide much-needed spark.
The theme continues with the promotion of bench utility Ben Hunt to starting dummy-half in place of hard-working No.9 and club teammate Andrew McCullough.
Cowboys forward Coen Hess was added to the squad two days out from the game after spending time in the Maroons camp already this series. Hess was cut an hour before kick-off and Kurt Mann is 18th man.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 3 -
Fullback for Blues is number 1 James TedescoFullback for Maroons is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
Winger for Blues is number 2 Brian To'oWinger for Maroons is number 2 Valentine Holmes
Centre for Blues is number 3 Latrell MitchellCentre for Maroons is number 3 Dane Gagai
Centre for Blues is number 4 Tom TrbojevicCentre for Maroons is number 4 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Winger for Blues is number 5 Josh Addo-CarrWinger for Maroons is number 5 Xavier Coates
Five-Eighth for Blues is number 6 Jack WightonFive-Eighth for Maroons is number 6 Cameron Munster
Halfback for Blues is number 7 Mitchell MosesHalfback for Maroons is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
Prop for Blues is number 10 Junior PauloProp for Maroons is number 8 Christian Welch
Hooker for Blues is number 9 Damien CookHooker for Maroons is number 9 Ben Hunt
Prop for Blues is number 18 Dale FinucaneProp for Maroons is number 10 Josh Papalii
2nd Row for Blues is number 11 Cameron Murray2nd Row for Maroons is number 11 Kurt Capewell
2nd Row for Blues is number 12 Tariq Sims2nd Row for Maroons is number 12 Felise Kaufusi
Lock for Blues is number 13 Isaah YeoLock for Maroons is number 15 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
Interchange for Blues is number 14 Apisai KoroisauInterchange for Maroons is number 14 Alexander Brimson
Interchange for Blues is number 15 Angus CrichtonInterchange for Maroons is number 16 Moeaki Fotuaika
Interchange for Blues is number 16 Payne HaasInterchange for Maroons is number 18 Francis Molo
Interchange for Blues is number 17 Liam MartinInterchange for Maroons is number 20 Thomas Flegler
Reserve for Blues is number 19 Nicho HynesReserve for Maroons is number 19 Kurt Mann
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Todd Smith
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
Mitch Moses v Daly Cherry-Evans: The consensus is that the time is very much now for the 26-year-old Eels play-maker and he will be desperate to reward the faith shown in him.
The series may be won but there is still plenty of pressure on Moses as he tried to fill Nathan Cleary's very large boots.
The Queensland captain has 15 Origin games to his credit but Cherry-Evans is under just as much pressure as the Blues debutant after uncharacteristically losing his cool in game two.
Queensland's difficulty in scoring points is starkly illustrated by the fact they have only managed a single line break per match so far this series while the Blues have accumulated 17.
The tackle breaks category is slightly more encouraging with the Maroons tallying 68 busts to NSW's 101.
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