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Renouf: How Maroons can convert upset win into momentum

They say you are only as good as your last game and that's why I believe Queensland's State of Origin III upset was so important.

Sure NSW won the series and were worthy champions. They blew away Queensland in the first two games.

But I honestly don't think a series win will be on the Blues' minds before the 2022 opener. It will be that loss in game three. That will sting - and give the Maroons a pretty important advantage.

No doubt NSW will celebrate what was a dominant title win. But just looking at the Blues players as they were waiting to receive the Ampol State of Origin shield after the 20-18 result at Cbus Super Stadium told the story.

They were gutted.

It would have been a hollow feeling holding that shield up after just being beaten in a game.

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Sometimes it's hard to explain to people who have not been around it but Origin players have a "game by game" mentality. That's very much ingrained in their psyche.

And Queensland won the last one. NSW may not admit it but that gives the Maroons an edge. Boy, didn't Queensland need it.

The Maroons have been written off in the past. It's nothing new. They love the underdog tag. But it seemed nothing had compared to the pressure they were under before game three.

They only had themselves to blame for being under the pump like that. Still, no one gave them a chance.

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Yet they found a way to bounce back. They stood up. They were tough. They gave 100 per cent. They got around each other.

That's what you want to see from a Queensland side. Diehard fans may not have been surprised but I think NSW were.

The Maroons appeared to have found a blueprint for success.

However, I am not sure Ben Hunt will retain the No.9 jersey next year with Harry Grant fully fit.

Of course Hunt was outstanding in game three. Switching him to rake proved the difference.

He got two meat pies but it was his work around the ruck that turned the game and was exactly what you expect from an Origin hooker.

Hunt was a no-brainer for me at hooker with Grant sidelined with a hamstring injury.

But I think selectors face a tough decision next year if both Hunt and Grant are up and about.

Hunt brings a lot and probably deserves that No.9 spot next year but Grant is a very good player so that might not happen.

DCE says Ponga's energy off the field just as important to Maroons

Grant is a pure No.9 while Hunt's utility value would make it pretty tempting to slot him on to the bench for 2022 game one.

They used them as a one-two punch at hooker with Hunt coming off the bench last year and it worked. But whatever position Hunt plays for Queensland, he always does it well.

Hooker next year may cause a dilemma for Queensland selectors but it is a welcome headache.

Ponga: It all felt surreal

Kalyn Ponga's return from a groin injury was also another factor. Him chiming into a spine at fullback with Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster - who I also believe responded well in game three - just made them look like a different team.

Speaking of X-factors, teenager Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow certainly had an Origin debut to remember.

On paper it looked like a big ask lining up against Tom Trbojevic at 19 in your first game for Queensland.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

But I relaxed as soon as I heard him talking to the media before the game.
He was so confident. You got the sense that this was his arena.

Time and again players have been found out pretty quickly at Origin level but I just got the feeling he belonged after I caught that interview. He didn't disappoint.

Coach Paul Green may have been criticised for some selections this year but he got that one right. I hope Green gets another chance to do it again next year.

Like Queensland, he was under enormous pressure before game three. But in the end the boys got up. Do I want Green to return as Queensland coach? Yeah why not?

Winners are grinners. That shuts the critics up. He deserves another crack.

Another I think who should be back in Maroon next year is Jai Arrow. He let a lot of people down with his biosecurity team hotel breach just days before such an important game.

It was dumb but Queensland don't hold grudges. He would have learned his lesson. He certainly won't do it again. I believe the Maroons will rally around him and welcome him back. They won't turn their backs on him.

Queensland will stick together - just like they did for game three.

 

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