NRL preview, State of Origin 3

NRL Tips expert Steve Green brings you his NRL preview for the deciding State of Origin 3, set to be played in Sydney.

Coach Walters described this as the biggest Origin match in history. I think he might be exaggerating there, but this will be up there with the most important games!

The reason why is the QLD dominance of the past decade or so might, finally, be ending. But we though the same thing in 2014, when NSW finally ended the QLD team’s run of eight straight series. However, this was followed up by QLD winning 3 straight series and crushing the notion of a new Blues era.

Coach Freddy however, won last year and based on the Game 2 dominance of the Blues, I can see why people south of the border are getting cocky.

On my ratings, NSW have a far better team and playing at home, the 7-point line is tempting at the minus…but I have watched every Origin game ever played and if NSW won every game they had a better team on paper, Origin wouldn’t be what it is today.

The Maroons

For QLD, the big issue is how they can overcome the loss of Ponga. When Coach Walters, under pressure from the media, released his team sheet last week…I smelt a rat. I did not think playing Munster at 1, Morgan at 3, Norman at 6 and Mbye at 14 made any sense.

Firstly, Munster has excelled at 6…both for the Storm and for QLD. He and DCE have struck up a combination and changing that for Game 3 goes against a lot of what QLD stands for in this arena.

Secondly, Morgan is underutilised in the centres and this was something Kevvie admitted after Game 2… so why would he move him to 14 where he will be used even less! Morgan has been instrumental in QLD success for years now, there is no reason to shift him out of starting team! He didn’t train during the week due to the concussion protocols.

Thirdly, Norman hasn’t played Origin his whole career and while he is having a good year, moving him straight into starting team at 6 over Morgan, is a ridiculously bold call. Norman is a dangerous attacking player, but he is much smaller than Morgan and he will be targetted in defence if he is starting at 6.

Fourthly, Mbye has recently been moved to the centres for the Tigers and his form has improved. He is a decent enough defender and playing him in the centres, Morgan at 1, Munster at 6 means all three guys are playing where they play their club footy. This would mean Norman, who has some X factor about him, would be used as a sub only if needed in the second half (i.e. QLD trailing and need a spark).

Man Of The Match?

While it hasn’t been confirmed yet, I think that there is a very good chance QLD line up with Morgan at 1, Mbye at 3, Munster at 6 and Norman at 14. News that Mbye has been training at 3 has filtered out and led people to think this means Morgan is playing 14. I think they are missing the real swap, which is Morgan to either 6 or 1.

The reason I look at potential team changes in so much detail, is because it opens up betting possibilities due to markets being mispriced. In this instance, the Man of the Match market is the one I am interested in and Morgan is the value pick.

NEDS and Ladbrokes have him at $41. If he starts at 1 or 6, then a player of Morgan’s caliber should be no more than 15-1.

The Blues

As for the Blues, they have brought in Pearce for Cleary and despite a lot of people claiming he is a choker and should not be given the job, he was the undeniable choice. He and Maloney have played together before and he is in great form. He should play well.

Besides that, the Blues head into this one with a lot of momentum and a fully fit squad. They blew QLD off the park in Game 2 and without Ponga, QLD’s team is even weaker heading into Game 3.

Final Thoughts

QLD has an uncanny way of pulling out wins in Game 3 deciders. The last eight Game 3 series deciders have all been won by QLD (2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017). NSW last won a Game 3 match decider in 2005.

While I am not big on such historical records (i.e. the QLD teams that won those deciders from 2006 – 2017 had guys like Smith, Inglis and Slater playing), it is a pretty amazing trend and does fit with the more well-established trend of QLD being able to lift their game to another level when it matters (and NSW not being able to do so).

All in all, I think the Blues will win by a converted try in a thriller.

Predicted Score
New South Wales 18
Queensland 12
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