Historical Origin snub driving Blues’ ‘motivation’

NSW missing out on a home game for Game Three will play a role in Brad Fittler’s attempts to motivate his side for the dead rubber game, says Maroons great Darren Lockyer.

It’s the first year without a game in Sydney since Origin started with standalone games in Brisbane in 1980 and 1981.

State of Origin III was due to be played in Sydney but was eventually moved to the Gold Coast after the NSW government refused to allow fans at Newcastle’s Hunter Stadium because of concerns about a COVID spread. The NRL was also unwilling to play the game’s marquee event behind closed doors, with a capacity crowd of 27,000 expected to attend the game.

Lockyer’s one reservation about Slater as coach

With the pandemic forcing all games to be played in Queensland, NSW has a rare chance of securing a historic clean sweep in Maroons territory, a feat that is unlikely to ever be replicated.

The Blues are chasing their first series clean sweep since 2000 – and Lockyer believes Fittler will add weight to the narrative that NSW was “robbed” of a home game this year to inspire his side in the dead rubber.

“There’s no doubt Freddy will use it as motivation,” Lockyer said on QLDER.

“There was a saying back in the Broncos days under Wayne (Bennett). Let’s send the crowd home early.

“If we played at an away ground that was our motto – send them home early. If you were playing an away game and you saw them walking out ten minutes to go you’d think ‘how good’s this?’ They will use that as motivation.”

QLDER: Can Ponga unlock the Maroons attack?

Queensland coach Paul Green will unleash a new-look backline featuring Cowboys speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, with Kalyn Ponga also back in the team after recovering from injury.

Ponga returned from a two-month lay-off from a groin problem to lead Newcastle to a thumping 38-0 Round 16 victory over North Queensland.

The Newcastle fullback’s injury woes ruled him out of the first two Origin games, which Queensland lost 76-6 collectively. He also missed last year’s series with a shoulder issue and hasn’t played for Queensland in two years.

With Valentine Holmes returning to the wing, Lockyer hopes Ponga’s ability to create space will help set up the Cowboys star and debutant Tabuai-Fidow.

“I’m not taking anything way from Val Holmes but he brings in ‘The Hammer’ (Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow) because he’s very good at providing space for his outside men.” Lockyer said.

“Holmes might see more space on the wing now. Gagai hasn’t seen much quality ball. I’m not saying Val Holmes couldn’t do that but that’s ‘KP’s’ strength, get the ball to his outside men in space.”

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

pin up