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Blues facing Origin moment of truth

NSW Blues at training

NSW face their biggest State of Origin moment in 28 years on Wednesday night.
Blues facing Origin moment of truth
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, July 16 AAP - NSW face their biggest State of Origin moment in 28 years on Wednesday night, yet on the back of a horrendous preparation they line up against a Queensland outfit desperate not to be the side to send the shield south of the border.

Fear of failure is proving a major motivator for the Maroons as they attempt to secure their eighth-straight series win - the drive for success in no way diluted by their achievements.

The Blues seemed to be making inroads with a series opening win in Sydney - but a game two shellacking and shocking build-up to the decider has them outsiders.

Only once have they ever started at longer odds to win a game at ANZ Stadium than the $2.50 being offered - and that was when they lost the 2010 series 3-0.

Their brightest attacking force, Jarryd Hayne, failed to make it through the first day of camp due to a hamstring injury.

Inspirational leader Paul Gallen was also a scratching due to a foot injury, while fill-in captain Robbie Farah spent Origin eve watching his NRL club implode from afar with Benji Marshall wanting out of Wests Tigers.

All this heading into a game which, if won, would rival NSW's first series win in 1985.

But while the Blues are on their knees, the Maroons remain wary.

"Even though Paul Gallen is out, their leader, they're a formidable footy side here at ANZ Stadium," Maroons coach Mal Meninga said.

"We also understand that we haven't won here the last couple of years. We have to play to our potential to get the result we're after."

Queensland's recent ANZ Stadium history is not great - having lost on their last three visits to the venue - but they do have a good record in deciders at the stadium.

Of the three deciders at the Sydney Olympics home, both sides have won once with the other game drawn.

But it is Queensland's ability to dominate in clutch situations during their seven-year reign which really stands out, with big-game players coming to the fore in all four deciders played during that span.

Last year it was Cooper Cronk with his field goal at the death, while in 2011 four tries in the space of 20 minutes blew NSW off the park in the opening half.

In 2008 Johnathan Thurston took off from his own half with 13 minutes to go to set up Billy Slater's match-winner, while Darren Lockyer's effort to pounce on a loose Brett Hodgson pass to kick-start the dynasty in 2006 has gone down in Origin folklore.

Many of those names remain in the Maroons line-up, and they are hellbent on not having their name associated with a NSW revival.

"Certainly when you get in the back end of your career fear of failure is a determining factor to get yourself motivated personally," Meninga said.

NSW's motivation is almost the opposite - the need to create their own piece of history.

Against the odds, against arguably the greatest Queensland side ever assembled, Farah has the chance to lead the Blues to a memorable victory.

"Potentially. We lose and no-one remembers," Farah said.

"We can't look back, Gal's not going to be on the field with us, we can't feel sorry for ourselves.

"We've just got to get on with the job and that's what we plan on doing."


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