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Forwards to blame: Maroons come out swinging in DCE's defence

Daly Cherry-Evans heads into Origin III under pressure to avoid a record-breaking series loss but the QRL has no doubt he's the right man to lead the Maroons out of the mire.

The Manly playmaker faces arguably the greatest challenge of his three-year captaincy when he takes the reins of another rejigged Maroons side attempting to avoid NSW's first whitewash in 21 years and the biggest aggregate points deficit in Origin history.

Queensland have speed to burn in game three after welcoming back Kalyn Ponga and AJ Brimson from injury and naming North Queensland teenager Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to make his Origin debut at centre, replacing Penrith's Kurt Capewell who slots into a tweaked back-row.

But Cherry-Evans may yet prove the difference in Origin III.

His effort and attitude was openly questioned by former Queensland teammate Cooper Cronk after the 26-0 game-two loss at Suncorp Stadium that iced the Blues' third Origin series win in four years, prompting suggestions the Sea Eagles' Maroons days may be coming to an end.

But Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher said the halfback's selection was never in doubt.

He backed his on-field leadership and for Cherry-Evans to spark the Maroons' ailing attack, if their pack can stand up up to their NSW counterparts.

Queensland have registered just one try in two games to trail NSW 76-6 on the overall points tally, ensuring the Blues are on track to secure the most dominant series victory in Origin history.

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Hatcher only had superlatives for Cherry-Evans after the Manly No.7 almost tackled himself to a standstill in game two. However, he challenged Queensland's pack to lay a platform so DCE could break the shackles against the Blues.

"I don't think he deserves to be dropped, his work rate has been unbelievable," Hatcher told

"But to quote the great Duncan Thompson if you want your halfback to do 40 tackles a game how on earth can he attack? 

"I see Cherry-Evans in very creative moods with Manly and last year with Queensland.

"If we want to be more creative let's get some ball and let's do something with it, get over the advantage line from the forwards' perspective."

Cronk took exception to the Sea Eagles star's post-Origin II media conference claim that they had struggled with the "motivation factor" after the Maroons attack had again misfired.

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"There was zero conviction there," Cronk told Fox League.

"If I'm DCE I put my hand up as captain and halfback and say: 'It's not all on me but a large percentage is on me because I didn't tell this person to get to this position or I didn't have my lead runners right'.

"And for the lack of motivation, this is Origin. You're playing at Suncorp. I've run out at Suncorp and there's enough motivation in that roar when you run out onto that field. You lost, there's nothing wrong with owning it and vowing to fight your way back next year."

But former Queensland speedster Mat Rogers said Cherry-Evans's only game-two problem was a pop-gun backline - but he believed it had been addressed for game three.

"Our go-forward hasn't been great. And we had Capewell who is a back-rower [in the backline] - we have missed strike out there," he said.

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"But I think we are moving in the right direction. The halves [DCE, five-eighth Cameron Munster] have proven in years gone by that they are good enough - we just need the right players around them to do their job."

The dual international claimed he could even see a chink in the Blues' armour after injury enforced the selection of new halves pairing Jack Wighton and Origin rookie Mitch Moses.

"They have a debutant in there trying to steer the ship which I would like to think we would try and take advantage of and put on a heap of pressure there from Queensland's perspective, rattle them up," he said.

Hatcher believed playing for pride would be motivation enough to spark the Maroons in Origin III.

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"That's what these games are all about - pride," he said.

"We have never had the numbers that they [NSW] have got, but we have always made a good fist of it.

"These players involved in the series our ethos is all about going out there and doing your best.

"I think we haven't quite reached that yet but I expect we will do a whole lot better this time."

Rogers dipped his hat to NSW but balked when asked if the Blues were on the verge of an Origin dynasty.

Queensland set the standard when they won 11 series in 12 years including eight straight from 2006 - a feat Rogers doubted NSW would match despite their current greatness.

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"Paul Green has copped a lot of criticism at the moment but I think it is tremendously unfair - if it isn't the best NSW side ever picked it wouldn't be far off," Rogers said.

"But we are talking about Origin. Who knows who will step out of the blocks for Queensland in the next year or two.

"And one of the challenges we have had in the last couple of games is that we got in good positions but we haven't been able to score because we haven't got the likes of Kalyn Ponga there.

"NSW can talk dynasties all they want, but I don't think guys like Ponga are very old - they are not going anywhere.

"We have got some players of our own who can dominate at that level. I can't see NSW winning eight in a row - you can quote me on that."

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