Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, looks over both states in preparation for Wednesday night with his State of Origin tips for Game 3 of the 2021 series.

New South Wales Blues v Queensland Maroons @ McDonald Jones Stadium
Wednesday 14th July, 8:10pm

BluesMaroons
James Tedesco1Kalyn Ponga
Brian To’o2Valentine Holmes
Latrell Mitchell3Dane Gagai
Tom Trbojevic4Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Josh Addo-Carr5Xavier Coates
Jack Wighton6Cameron Munster
Mitchell Moses7Daly Cherry-Evans
Junior Paulo10|8Christian Welch
Damien Cook9Ben Hunt
Dale Finucane18|10Josh Papalii
Cameron Murray11Kurt Capewell
Tariq Sims12Felise Kaufusi
Isaah Yeo13Jai Arrow
Api Koroisau14AJ Brimson
Angus Crichton15Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Payne Haas16Moeaki Fotuaika
Liam Martin17David Fifita


History:
Played 122, Blues 56, Maroons 64

Last Meeting: Game 2, 2021: Blues 26 def. Maroons 0

Final Thoughts: The 2021 State of Origin series has already been decided after the New South Wales Blues claimed victory in Game 2 with a 26-0 win over a somewhat improved Queensland Maroons side.

Injuries have forced Freddy Fittler into changes for this one. Meanwhile, Paul Green is ushering in some young talent with the State of Origin shield out of reach. The teams look closer on paper. Whether or not the Maroons can put it together on the field and make a game of it remains to be seen.

Head-to-Head & Handicap

Despite a new-look Blues halves pairing and the possibility of a lethargic performance with the series already won, New South Wales are huge favourites at $1.20 and -14.5. Meanwhile, Queensland’s $4.30 and -13.5 from Game 2 are out even further to $4.60 and +14.5.

The Blues won’t be playing out of Stadium Australia as first planned. They had hoped to host 70,000 fans to celebrate winning the shield. However, Covid issues in the state have forced the game to be moved to Newcastle and a further reduced crowd size.

Perhaps that’s one teeny tiny benefit for the Maroons.

Points & Where They’re Coming From

The Total Points mark has jumped from 42.5 in Game 2 to 44.5 heading into Game 3.

Tom Trbojevic is a try-scoring machine at the moment and it’s reflected in his $1.72 price to dot down in this one. Perhaps more appealing is his $4.50 to score two or more tries and $17 to finish with another hattrick. Josh Addo-Carr and Brian To’o are shorter still at $1.62 each to score any time. With Jack Wighton’s willingness to run the ball, his $3.75 is notable. However, the reduction in ball movement across the park as a result of Wighton’s addition to the side might hinder To’o on the wing. Mitchell Moses, on the other hand, is more likely to dig into the line and release a pass down the right edge.

For the Maroons, a kick-and-hope to Valentine Homes ($2.50) or Xavier Coates ($2.63) will no doubt be at the top of their menu of options all too frequently on Wednesday night. Kalyn Ponga sweeping around the back of a left shift or applying some footwork off a scrum will be a major feature of any positives Queensland muster in attack. He’s at $3.40 to score in his return to the State of Origin arena. Meanwhile, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has been thrust into the side to keep a lid on Trbojevic, but is always a try scoring chance with his speed and will receive some attention at $3.75.

READ: State of Origin 3 – 5 Burning Questions

Tip

The 13+ didn’t look like enough for the Maroons heading into Game 2. As we now know, it wasn’t. They did, however, make significant improvements in defence to concede just (just…it’s incredible what NSW have done this year that we’re saying just) 26 points.

Queensland’s squad looks a lot better for Game 3, too. Meanwhile, few would argue New South Wales don’t look quite as fearful on paper despite the clear advantages they still hold in some areas. Out in the backline, in particular. Still, it looks as though the gap between the two teams overall has closed slightly.

The Maroons pack has had its moments throughout the series. That isn’t where things have gone wrong for this side. A lack of attack hasn’t allowed them to build any pressure, but the return of Kalyn Ponga will help to address the issue. So too will the speed of Tabuai-Fidow who should ask some questions of the Blues defence in exit sets.

An improved attack will improve the defence and allow the Maroons to keep this one close. If the Blues come out a little bit lethargic with the 2021 State of Origin series already locked up, we may even be in for an upset.

Tip: Handicap – Maroons +14.5 @ $1.90