Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, looks over both states in preparation for Wednesday night with his State of Origin tips for Game 3 of the 2022 series.

Queensland Maroons v New South Wales Blues @ Suncorp Stadium
Wednesday 13th July, 10:10pm

MaroonsBlues
Kalyn Ponga1James Tedesco
Selwyn Cobbo2Brian To’o
Valentine Holmes3Matt Burton
Dane Gagai4Stephen Crichton
TBC5Daniel Tupou
TBC6Jarome Luai
Daly Cherry-Evans7Nathan Cleary
Lindsay Collins8TBC
Ben Hunt9Api Koroisau
Josh Papalii10Jake Trbojevic
Kurt Capewell11Cameron Murray
Jeremiah Nanai12Liam Martin
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui13Isaah Yeo
Harry Grant14Damien Cook
Jai Arrow15Angus Crichton
Patrick Carrigan16Junior Paulo
Tom Gilbert17Siosifa Talakai


History:
Played 125, Maroons 65, Blues 58

Last Meeting: Game 2, 2022: Blues 44 def. Maroons 12

Final Thoughts: The Queensland Maroons fought hard in the first half of Game 2 but couldn’t keep up with a New South Wales Blues side that dominated the centre-third. While Felise Kaufusi being sent to the sin bin ended up circled as the turning point of the match, it was coming sooner or later regardless. The Maroons could only hold the Blues out for so long with the fatigue in their legs. Eventually, the middle defence fell away and Brad Fittler’s side piled on the points to record a convincing 44-12 victory.

The Munster Conundrum

Cameron Munster was being talked about as Queensland’s greatest ever State of Origin player after Game 1. His match-winning performance is the sort we’ve come to expect from the five-eighth and he’s the sort of player the Maroons rely on to create the defining play late in the piece. In the build-up to Game 3, however, the discussions are around how they replace him. Ruled out due to covid, Billy Slater is without his most influential player for the decider.

Tom Dearden was said to be replacing Munster in the halves. However, that was pure speculation from the talking heads of the game. Slater didn’t know what he was doing as late as Sunday with Ben Hunt – one of the best halves in rugby league – an option to replace Munster to start.

Hunt moving straight in makes the most sense. On one hand, you’ve got a Top 3 or 4 half in the game that has been there and done it before in State of Origin. On the other, it’s a young debutant who while performing well in 2022, isn’t at Hunt’s level. Carry Dearden on the bench and ask Harry Grant to play 80 minutes. Grant is an incredibly smart footballer who can manage himself to last a full match. If the game doesn’t allow it, Dearden is capable of slotting into the middle for a limited period.

It remains to be seen what Slater does with his rotation. Grant is likely to take on a few extra minutes, though. His $3.70 appeals given his ability to dart over from dummy half close to the line.

Points & Where They’re Coming From

The Blues cleared the 38.5 total in Game 2 themselves but the Points Total remains the same for Game 3. Even at their best, Queensland don’t pose as a high-scoring side and we can expect the Suncorp factor to bring the two sides closer together in this one.

Brian To’o is again the favourite to cross the line ($8.50 first/$1.88 anytime). He shapes as the beneficiary of the Blues’ favoured left side where Jarome Luai ($23/$4.40) and Matt Burton ($12/$2.35) both scored in Game 2. Cameron Murray’s $23 to score first and $4.80 anytime deserves a mention. Jeremiah Nanai has burst onto the scene with his ability in attack and under the highball. However, he has displayed a handful of concerns defensively and Murray has the line-running and footwork to expose them.

For Queensland, it’s Corey Oates on the first line of betting. Dropped to reserve grade last year and the assumed replacement for Murray Taulagi on the wing for this one, scoring the first try ($13) in a State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium would complete one of the great turnarounds. Selwyn Cobbo ($12.50/$2.65) occupies the other wing and despite struggling in Game 2, should see one or two opportunities close to the line. While Nanai ($29/$6) has been circled as a possible target in defence, the Queensland halves are sure to look for him on the last tackle with the boot.

State of Origin 3 Tips

The 2022 State of Origin series has been tough to pick so far and Game 3 is no different.

An improvement from the Maroons is assumed despite Cameron Munster being ruled out. Not that far off in Game 2, a bounce of the ball here or there could have changed the result entirely. In the end, the pressure the Blues were able to build translated into points late in the match.

That early pressure has been a trend in both games as patience proves to be a significant part of the winning formula. It took 14 minutes in Game 1 and 22 minutes in Game 2 for the first try to be scored. Expect the first in Game 3 to come after the 8th minute ($1.72).

We’re going to get a good idea of the most likely final result shortly before halftime. It’s a period of the match Queensland and New South Wales have found success. Interestingly, the losing side scored the first try in both games before wrestling control of the match late in the first half and going on to win it in the second. While it’s not a trend that implies any sort of future outcome, it shows the up and down nature of State of Origin and how important it is to get into a grind through the middle. It’s an area the Blues look better suited to dominate. The yardage generated from the back-three is crucial and relieves a lot of the pressure on the Blues’ middles with the ball. That allows them to defend with line speed and make things difficult for the Maroons pack.

It takes something special for a team to stay in a game when falling behind in the yardage battle. Munster is that something special and is a massive loss for the Maroons. The Blues know they can adopt a patient approach with the ball just as they did in Game 2 and complete the comeback series win in a close one.

Tip: Handicap – Maroons +8.5 @ $1.90