NSW are welcoming a frontal assault from Queensland in State of Origin III, after the Maroons curiously changed their successful long-term selection policy of holding a utility on their interchange bench.
Injury to Michael Morgan and Josh Papalii has forced Maroons coach Kevin Walters to rejig his line-up.
However instead of choosing another utility to replace Morgan, as his predecessor Mal Meninga would have likely done, Walter recalled Nate Myles and gave Gavin Cooper his Origin debut to give the Maroons a four forward bench.
Blues prop James Tamou is expecting a torrid battle in the middle of the field as a result.
“We know they are concentrating on the middle, we know they will be coming up the middle and we will be ready for that,” Blues prop James Tamou said.
“I guess you could say was have had some success with that ourselves, with the big boys we do have on the bench and Queensland have probably noticed that and want to do something about it.”
“They might not throw it around out wide as much as they have done.”
ANZ Stadium usually offers a dewy surface at night during July that is not conducive to expansive rugby league, one reason why Walters has gone for a four forwards bench rotation.
Laurie Daley will play Matt Moylan off the bench as the Blues utility in game three at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, something that could give NSW an edge.
“Morgan is a big loss from them, he adds that spark but with Gavin Cooper there and Nate Myles back from injury they are going to try and go through the middle and that is what we have to stop,” Blues interchange forward David Klemmer said.
“We have some big bodies on the bench so I think they are trying to match us.”
Klemmer said a win in game three was vital for the Blues confidence going forward into next year.
“There is a lot of pride on the line for us, to win this and go into next year’s series as a group that would be good with this young team, and we can go into camp game one next year on a good note,” he said.
“We can’t let them win 3-0, it is Gal’s (Paul Gallen) last game and we can’t send him out a 3-0 winner.”
The Blues backs had an oppose session against a group made up of local Coffs Harbours players at their Novotel Resort base on Saturday morning, while the forwards trained together as a group.
NSW fly back to Sydney on Sunday afternoon. They will have an oppose session against the NSW under 20s side, which includes NRL players Lachlan Croker and Jack Cogger, at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night.