Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin: Game 3 Teams


The 2018 State of Origin series may have been won and lost already but, as the punters will readily tell you, there’s no such thing as a dead rubber in Origin! And so we can anticipate as willing a contest as ever when the teams line up for the final game of the series at Brisbane’s Lang Park (aka Suncorp Stadium) tonight.


For NSW, there’s the opportunity of a series clean sweep, a so-called Blue-rinse, something they haven’t achieved since 2000. In fact, since Origin became a best-of-three series, there have been only seven clean sweeps in 37 years!Now if that’s not motivation enough for the boys in Blue to roll up, get excited, dig deep and generally stick it to the locals, then they still don’t ‘get it’ fully. There’s no way Freddie Fittler will let his players take it easy just because they’ll get the trophy at the end of the night anyway.


For the Maroons as a team, it’s simply a matter of pride. That’s all there is to it. For several individual players, it’s now or never, a last chance to show they belong at this level. For Billy Slater, this is it after 30+ Origin appearances and, fittingly, with (c) next to his name.


Blues selectors have made minimal changes to their squad for the trip north. Captain Boyd Cordner is in some doubt but I can’t see him not playing and accepting the trophy at game’s end. Matt Prior seems very unlucky to me to be discarded altogether. After waiting years for his debut at this level, and having put in a very serviceable effort, he gets the ‘big A’ for I know not what reason(s). His starting place in the front row goes to Paul Vaughan, a very good performer off the bench in the first two matches. Tariq Sims comes on to the bench, an overdue recognition for his good season to date with the Saints. He brings good ball skills, agility, strength and menace to an already formidable forward pack.


It’s turning out to be a forgettable year for the Maroons! After big name retirements before the series (Thurston, Cronk and Smith), another one during it (Boyd), long-term injuries to first choice players (Scott, Morgan and Gillett) and now injuries to captain Inglis, wonder-boy utility Ponga and forward hulk Napa, Kevvie Walters must be wondering what he’s done to deserve all this! In come Corey Oates (deservedly so as he’s been a good performer previously at this level and is having a season to remember) and Daly Cherry-Evans (yet to establish himself in the team let alone at Origin level, although going well at Manly). These two are in a no-win situation – if the Maroons win, well, that’s what we expect from them; if they lose, then maybe they’re not up to the mark. Tim Glasby also returns on the bench after being on the fringes for earlier games.


A few positional changes see Jarrod Wallace move to the bench, Josh Papalii and Jai Arrow start at prop, Dane Gagai move to the centres in place of Inglis, and Ben Hunt take the utility role on the bench. You can’t help but feel that a few have retained their places only because of the many injuries and so get one last chance to show that they are worthy of playing this level of the game.


Common sense tells you that NSW should win comfortably even though series sweeps are rare and the game is being played in Brisbane. The Blues were the better team in Game 1 and defended well enough in Game 2 to hang on to clinch the series. Their confidence is up, they have a stable line-up and coach Fittler has them believing in themselves. Expect them to play with flair as they look to entertain as well as show that they are the real deal.


As a cane toad, I’d love to buy into the ‘backs to the wall’, ‘beware the wounded Maroons’, ‘we’ll do it for Queensland’ mantra. They weren’t all that far off the chocolates in Game 1 and, arguably, didn’t get the rub of the green in Game 2, so you can’t write them off. But I just can’t see it happening. A real pity as Billy Slater deserves a better farewell.


The local press has Queensland winning by up to 14 points! I can’t see it and stick with my prediction of NSW by 12+. I’ll be back later this evening with the aftermath.


The teams:
NSW: 1. Tedesco 2. T Trbojevic 3. Mitchell 4. Roberts 5. Addo-Carr 6. Maloney 7. Cleary 8. Klemmer 9. Cook 10. Vaughan 11. Cordner (c) 12. Frizell 13. De Belin 14. Sims 15. J Trbojevic 16. Crichton 17. Peachey


Queensland: 1. Slater (c) 2. Holmes 3. Gagai 4. Chambers 5. Oates 6. Munster 7. Cherry-Evans 8. Arrow 9. MuCullough 10. Papalii 11. Cooper 12. Kaufusi 13. McGuire 14. Hunt 15. Wallace 16. Hess 17. Glasby


Ian Hauser plays a good footy game vicariously on the couch. He’s much better at playing with words. You can check out his editing service here.




About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at


  1. Like you, Ian, I’ll be hoping that the Maroons avoid a clean sweep of losses next week.
    A strong victory will hopefully set the scene for Queensland to regain the trophy in 2019.

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