After victories in games 1 and 2, NSW will go into tonight’s Suncorp clash full of confidence that they can achieve a 3-0 State of Origin whitewash. Queensland, on the other hand, appear to be a team in turmoil with a new halves combination coming in and Billy Slater captaining his state for the first time, in his final game.
The Blues have jumped on the opportunity afforded to them through the retirements of Jonathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith to blood new talent (12 so far this series, with Tariq Sims set be lucky number 13 tonight) and seize the shield for 2018. The last time NSW were on the winning end of a State of Origin whitewash was in 2000, when current coach Brad Fittler was the Blues captain.
Queensland will be desperate to preserve their pride at home and send out Billy Slater on a win. Their backs are against the wall and all the odds are stacked against them, but in front of a home crowd and with the motivation of trying to send out a legend with a win they have a chance.
Queensland have made three changes for this game, with Corey Oates coming on to the wing to push Dane Gagai into the centres, replacing the injured Greg Inglis, while Tim Glasby replaces Dylan Napa. Kalyn Ponga is also injured and Ben Hunt is moving from halfback to cover his bench utility spot, with Daly Cherry-Evans returning to the side in the halves.
NSW will make only the one change, with Tariq Sims replacing Matt Prior in the team and Paul Vaughan moving into the run on side. Tonight should see Nathan Cleary taking more control of the match, rather than NSW being the James Maloney show, but the master will be there in support if needed.
Tonight looks set to be a great game, and with the series already decided hopefully both teams will be more willing to take risks and play a more open game. There is only one question left: can NSW achieve their first State of Origin whitewash in 18 years?