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The last few days have felt strange, watching and reading all of the news reports surrounding State of Origin III.
It's impossible to avoid the attention surrounding the decider and having been in the boys' shoes last year, I know exactly what they're going through.
Remembering back to last year, we were full of confidence after knocking off the Maroons in Sydney. All of the talk in the lead-up to the game was around Darren Lockyer's retirement, which was fine by us. I was convinced it wouldn't have any bearing on the game.
We had the team to beat them and we thought we could do it! Unfortunately, history shows that didn't happen.
We got off to a slow start that night and they played the perfect half of footy, jumping out to a lead which we had to chase the whole game. By full-time we had fought back to within 10, but off the back of their home crowd, their boys managed to hold us off.
I spoke to Mitchell Pearce earlier in the week and asked whether he was feeling a bit of deje vu. After all, the series will once again be decided in game three at Suncorp, and this time, another Maroons legend in Petero Civoniceva is hanging the boots up.
In a good sign, Pearcey told me the NSW squad has been intensely focussed all week. He said there's a real air of confidence in every single NSW player.
Ricky Stuart has been central to that positivity, instilling confidence and belief without arrogance. They aren't hoping it happens, they are expecting it, which I think is great.
Naysayers might scoff at the mindset seeing as Queensland have won the past six series, but if the Blues don't have it, what's the point of turning up?
I felt NSW dominated Queensland in the forwards in game two and will be boosted enormously by the return of Tony 'T-Rex' Williams.
He had a fair game off the bench last time around after missing over two months through suspension. He then returned to club football last weekend after another few weeks off and tore us to shreds!
T-Rex's freakish strength, ability to bump defenders and offload under pressure will be a huge plus for NSW on the edge of the ruck.
Glenn Stewart, if ruled out, will be a massive loss. He is renowned for being tough and competitive, but I think his football smarts are what stands him apart from other players.
Origin footy is so quick, often it's one moment of intelligence in attack of defence that can be the difference. He's one that can provide that on both sides of the ball, so fingers crossed he makes a quick recovery!
The other key to victory, without question, is starting well.
As a player, I found the crowd at Suncorp didn't really affect my game last year, but it lifted theirs. The noise walking out of the tunnel is exciting, but it gets louder and more aggressive when Queensland start to play well which they in turn feed off.
Next Wednesday can't come soon enough. I'll be blogging live on Fango throughout the game if you want to jump online for some banter.
My tip - New South Wales by 8!Cheers, Mini
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