A State Of Origin Miracle Will Definitely Happen This Evening
Reckon we're joking? Well consider this...
No matter which side wins State of Origin Game III in Sydney tonight, one of them will have pulled off something which is not far short of miraculous.
For Queensland, it's obvious.
This is an historically weak Queensland team -- especially when compared to the golden era, which delivered 11 titles in 12 years from 2006 to 2017, including a streak of eight straight.
Most of the great players of that generation are now gone, either from rep footy or from the game altogether. Cronk, Smith, Thurston, Inglis, Slater, Civoniceva, Lockyer -- how Queensland would love to have even a couple of those guys available now.
To make matters worse, many of their first-choice players are injured, and realistically, Queensland has played only one good half of footy in this series -- in the first half at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane in Game I. But even then, NSW handed the momentum -- and the ball -- Queensland's way through intercepts.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters hired the man known as the "Coach Whisperer" to get it done, done, done, this year. But after the Blues' irresistible win in Perth two-and-a-half weeks ago, it will be a miracle, miracle, miracle if he does.
As for the Blues, they look stronger in almost every position than the Maroons. Except for one: halfback.
Yes, after first-choice Blues number seven Nathan Cleary succumbed to an ankle injury, Mitchell Pearce stepped up to fill his boots. Or let's be honest, he'll probably bring his own boots, but you know what we mean.
As we wrote last week, 30-year-old Pearce has the unwanted record of having played 18 Origin matches without ever being part of a series-winning team.
No player in Origin history has played as many times for so little success. His name was marked "never to play Origin again" by so many experts. Yet here he is -- a better, more seasoned, smarter player these days.
In truth, it will be deserved success if Pearce ends up part of a winning Origin team, because he's been excellent at club level for years now.
All the same, it's definitely something you never thought you'd see happen, so in its own way, it would definitely be a rugby league miracle. And one way or the other, we're going to get one tonight.