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Paul Green hopes Queensland's gutsy State of Origin win answered questions about the side's culture as the first-year coach ended a difficult maiden campaign with optimism.
Critics had lined up the former North Queensland NRL title winner and captain Daly Cherry Evans as the Maroons were walloped 50-6 and 26-0 to surrender the series entering Wednesday's final game on the Gold Coast.
They still lost the series by a record 68-point margin, but Queensland ensured NSW would not get a whitewash with a fiery 20-18 win that resembled an Origin battle of old.
The victory came after Jai Arrow was expelled from Maroons camp for a COVID-19 bubble breach.
That could have been the final nail in Green's coffin after Ronaldo Mulitalo's sensational game-day withdrawal over eligibility concerns, other injuries to key players and two historic losses on home turf.
Instead the coach, who only signed a one-year deal, may have proved himself worthy of leading the side again next year.
"The series didn't pan out like we'd hoped but tonight, as I said through the week, the future for Queensland's bright," he said.
"Our culture was questioned but you don't win Origin games like that if you don't have character and you don't stick together.
"You can talk about it all you like, but it's what you do out on the field that counts and I thought we showed that tonight."
Captain Cherry-Evans defended his coach throughout the campaign but understood why there had been such noise around their tenures.
"These things only happen when you open yourself to it by losing footy games," he said.
"The best thing we could've done tonight is win. Now that we've done that hopefully we can show that's off the back of a lot of hard work and some pretty good culture."
Green, also a coaching option for a new Queensland-based NRL club if expansion is approved, wouldn't be drawn on his intentions post-game.
"I love Queensland, loved playing when I got the chance and enjoyed this series as tough as it has been," he said.
"But now's not the time to be making any decisions about that.
"Tonight's not about me; it was a great win for Queensland and this team.
"We've been under unbelievable pressure and left ourselves open to that (by losing the first two games) but showed some character to get the result tonight."