NSW believe Queensland’s champion, yet ageing, State of Origin team is ripe for the picking ahead of Wednesday’s series decider.
The Blues have dominated large periods of this series, but head to Suncorp Stadium as outsiders as they chase back-to-back series wins for the first time since 2005.
On that cool August night in 2005, Andrew Johns blitzed the Maroons as the Blues jumped out to a 32-0 lead to claim a hat-trick of series titles.
It represented the end of a sustained period of NSW dominance over the interstate series – with the Maroons winning only one series between 1999 and 2005 – but Johns’ last Origin game also signalled the beginning of Queensland’s unprecedented streak of eight series wins.
It irks NSW that, perception or otherwise, the Maroons still consider themselves the rightful Origin champions, despite NSW’s breakthrough series win last year.
And of course that is what it comes down to at Suncorp Stadium, with a full house of feverish Maroons fans wanting nothing less than a return to State of Origin glory. Veteran Justin Hodges, a key player for the Maroons during their years of dominance, has said this will be his final interstate fixture.
If Queensland lose, several of his older teammates are sure to follow him into the sunset.
Maroons greats such as Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, however, are eager to show Queensland’s best days aren’t yet behind them. But a bullish young Blues side on the rise is keen to knock them off their perch and create their own dynasty.
“We are on the cusp of that,” Gallen said.
“We beat them last year, they have been a great side for a long, long time, but we believe it is our time now.
“We have the side to beat these guys, we know that. We just have to get out there for the 80 minutes and perform the way we know we can, the way we have trained and we can end it.”
The Blues won games one and two last year to claim the series before being thrashed in game three and booed as they held the Origin Shield aloft.
Gallen said a series win this year would be even sweeter in a decider on enemy territory than 2014’s effort.
“Every game you play you want to win, whether it is a decider or not but certainly being a decider up here, the biggest game in history, it is massive motivation for us,” he said.
And the Blues are keen to learn from the mistakes they made in the first game this season, covering every eventuality, including readying themselves to kick the match-winning field goal in the decider they should have nailed in game one.
“We kick one now and then … Hokko (halfback Trent Hodkinson) stays behind at training and (five-eighth Mitchell) Pearce stays behind,” Gallen said.
“Josh Dugan kicked one from 50 the other day, so hopefully we can kick one in the game if need be.
“But fingers crossed we are dominant enough that we don’t need to be in that position.”
Former Blues fullback Jarryd Hayne will be at Suncorp Stadium to cheer on NSW.
HEAD-TO-HEAD ORIGIN STATISTIC SINCE THE SERIES BEGAN IN 1980, AHEAD OF WEDNESDAY’S 2015 DECIDER
Series Wins (since three-games series began in 1982): Played 33, QLD 18, NSW 13, Drawn 2
All Origin Matches (1980-2014) – Played 104; QLD 55, NSW 47, Drawn 2
At Suncorp Stadium/Lang Park: Played 50; QLD 31, NSW 18, Drawn 1
Total Points Scored – QLD 1710 points (296 tries, 264 goals and 11 fg), NSW 1612 points (274 tries, 257 goals and 13 fg)
*Statistics courtesy of Fox Sports Stats