Origin III a flip of the coin: Meninga - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Origin III a flip of the coin: Meninga

By Laine Clark and Wayne Heming 24/06/2008 06:36:36 PM Comments (0)

A record-equalling victory is a hard act to follow - especially in State of Origin.

But Queensland believe they must conjure an effort "better" than their 30-0 game two drubbing of NSW to clinch what is already tipped to be a classic series decider in Sydney on July 2.

Desperate to again dodge the dreaded favourites tag, Maroons coach Mal Meninga has claimed Queensland had lost all momentum from the Origin II mauling due to the three week break between games.

But Meninga still predicted an Origin heartstopper at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday, drawing comparisons with the 2006 series opener at the same venue.

In that match last-minute inclusion and NSW halfback Brett Finch broke Maroon hearts on debut with a field goal that sealed a 17-16 win.

"This could be the best game of the lot - it will probably be the closest of the lot," Meninga said in Brisbane.

"It may take a field goal in the 80th minute to win the footy game, like it did in 2006 with Finchy.

"It's a flip of the coin this game."

Meninga was all smiles when an unchanged Maroons team was announced, with no injury concerns.

But as bookmakers named Queensland warm favourites at their bogey venue, Meninga typically grasped for underdog status.

"We have to rebuild that momentum," he said of game two's record-equalling win.

"We just can't think we won game two and keep riding on a high into game three."

But Bronco Karmichael Hunt - retained as starting fullback for Queensland - clearly forgot his lines.

He talked up the Maroons, saying a NSW team still reeling from their game two mauling may not have seen anything yet.

"We don't want to repeat our performance in game two - we want to do better," he said.

Hunt said Queensland had also taken heart from the fact that they played so poorly in the series opener at Sydney - and still only lost 18-10.

"We only lost by eight points but we didn't play our best football," he said.

"That was the positive we took into game two and it turned our attitude around, had us firing from the first whistle."

Meninga once again summed up the key to Queensland's winning chances in Sydney - "attitude".

But Hunt admitted the team would have to create their own intensity at the vacuous ANZ Stadium after the luxury of feeding off a rabid Suncorp Stadium in June 11's thrashing.

"I think we do. The crowd's not as hyped as it is at Suncorp and ANZ is so open and the stands are so far from the field," he said.

"You have to mentally prepare different but I think we'll get it right."

Queensland's chairman of selectors Des Morris admitted the panel went close to replacing incumbent forward Ben Hannant with Cowboys enforcer Carl Webb.

"There was certainly some discussion about Carl Webb," he said.

"He has been playing extremely well over the last few weeks but these guys have done the job for us.

"I know Carl was hurting pretty badly after missing the last one but unfortunately an opportunity has been given to other players and they have taken it."

The Maroons will assemble on Tuesday night in Cairns, where they will have a fan day and training session on Wednesday before flying to NSW.

They will be based at Terrigal on NSW's Central Coast in the countdown to Origin III.

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