It’s being touted as the biggest game ever! The highest TV ratings of all time. The record crowd numbers and massive media coverage. I dare say this game will not only exceed all local records but set an international benchmark for origin games as well. If Origin 3 lives up to that sort of hype, then bring it on! Bring it ALL on! The pizza, the cold beer (preferably Heineken thanks), the overzealous mates who have an opinion on just about everything rugby league. In fact, they invariably have an opinion on just about everything, full stop. But who cares? I intend to soak it all in! This is the creme dela creme of all events. A kind of Sports Utopia, as it were. This is Manny Pacqiao vs Floyd Mayweather, This is The Rock vs John Cena, This is Man U vs Barcelona, THIS IS BETTER THAN…….OK breath deeply…deeply….
Ok, I’m back. Where was I? That’s right, O3. Who would’ve scripted this any better? We had Game 1 – a Blues team with a new coach, new players and a new lease of life playing a near flawless first half of footy to take the series into a do or die match against, arguably the greatest league team in history. Then disaster struck. Jarryd Hayne’s injury, Blake Ferguson’s stupidity, James Tamou even more stupid. Game 2 -a Maroon Tsunami strikes a gun shy Blues team and the game is over in 17 minutes. The Champs climb off the floor and deliver a much more potent punch than Trent Merrin’s “handbag” effort. Four players get sent to the sin bin and for one fleeting moment, I thought we were playing that round ball game. We’ve since had moon boots, XXXX Island, Clive Palmer Resorts and Captain Courageous pulling out of the decider. What’s in stall for Game 3? Not even an ALP leadership spill is going to ruin this one! Here’s how I see it.
The game will be decided by the team with the more powerful mindset. The first two games were cases in point. In Game 1, NSW had to win the game otherwise it was curtains. Eight straight defeats would’ve been inevitable. NSW had far more to play for, far more desperation and played accordingly. Game 2 – a proud and illustrious Queensland team were not about to relinquish their record in front of their adoring and somewhat hysterical home crowd and they proceeded to play like the champion team they are. They had the better mindset. Who has the right mindset to take out the decider? It’s not just a matter of who wants to win? It’s not even a matter of who needs it more. It goes far beyond need. This is about history. This is about one critical passage of play just like Mark Coyne’s miracle try to win Game 1 in 1994 or Michael O’Connor’s game winning sideline conversion in Game 2, 1991 or Brett Kimmorley’s intercept pass to Matt Bowen in Game 2, 2005. This is about who can hold their nerve when it matters. Who can execute under the ultimate pressure cooker environment? This game won’t be over in the first 15 minutes like the first two games. This is a Grand Final. No second chances here. It will be played in the middle third of the field. A typical arm wrestle. Forwards decide big games. Completions. Kick chase. Pressure in defence. Percentage Plays. Who wants to hold that trophy aloft more than anything else in their LIFE? It’s like a scene from Indiana Jones where the person reaching out for the coveted challis gets their heads chopped off if they dare to touch it. Who dares to touch that Origin shield? Who Dares wins?
For the record, I’m tipping NSW by a field goal. Robbie Farah will kick it and earn an emotional Man of the Match and series award. I’m tipping NSW will exploit Queenslands weaker right hand side (Cronk-Hodges-Tate) and so either Michael Jennings or Brett Morris to score first. My outsiders are Greg Bird or Josh Dugan for first try/man of the match. Either way, I can’t wait for the pizzas and Heineken :-)