Queensland Maroons

Blues v Maroons: Best, Keaon to debut; AJ in for Walsh

Having lost seven of the past 11 Origin games and three of the past four series, the Blues have pinned their faith in a new-look side that includes two debutants in Bradman Best and Keaon Koloamatangi and four players recalled to the fold in Cody Walker, Clint Gutherson, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Jacob Saifiti.

The last time the Blues were on the end of a clean sweep was 2010, the fifth year of the Maroons' incredible eight-year dynasty, and it will take a mighty turnaround from a 32-6 loss in Brisbane to deny Queensland the fifth ever sweep.

New South Wales drops Jarome Luai ahead of dead rubber clash with Queensland

Key points:

  • Penrith's Jarome Luai has been dropped from the New South Wales team for State of Origin III
  • Cody Walker will return, with Keaon Koloamatangi and Bradman Best set to debut as the Blues look to avoid a whitewash
  • Queensland have made just two changes, due to suspension and injury, with Corey Horsburgh to earn his first Maroon jersey

Luai, Hudson Young, Tyson Frizell and Junior Paulo have paid the price for the Blues' hefty loss in Origin II and will not feature in the series finale on July 12 in Sydney.

Maroons v Blues: Potential late changes for both sides

Both sides have been forced into changes due to injury so the line-ups will look vastly different to those took the field in Game One, with the Blues losing star playmaker Nathan Cleary and the Maroons missing forwards Jai Arrow and Tom Gilbert.

The 17 men who take the field for Queensland will have the advantage of doing it on home soil in front of a boisterous Suncorp Stadium crowd, with history showing the Blues face a monumental task to keep the series alive.

Coates recalled into Maroons camp

He was recalled into the side at the expense of Selwin Cobbo who is unavailable for selection because of injury concerns. 

The Towering Winger was named for the first time this year after missing out on selection for the State of Origin Opener in Adelaide.

Coates last appeared in the State of Origin in 2022 game one where he suffered the injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the series.

Queensland rally late to draw first blood in Origin series opener

The Maroons trailed by two with six minutes left and despite being down a man in the sin-bin, Cameron Munster and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow combined down the Blues left edge to snatch an unlikely 1-0 series lead.

Tabuai-Fidow, who finished the match with a double, backed up Billy Slater's decision to pick the Dolphins fullback over veteran Dane Gagai with a mammoth effort that included the match-winner.

Maroons v Blues: Walsh gets his shot; Crichton in for Mitchell

One of the Blues' most decorated players, Fittler took over as coach in 2018 and masterminded back-to-back victories in his first two seasons in charge, before Wayne Bennett led an underdog Maroons side to a stunning upset in 2020.

The Blues hit back with a 2-1 triumph in 2021 before Slater added to his incredible Origin legacy by steering Queensland to victory last year, thanks largely to the efforts of Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga, Ben Hunt and Patrick Carrigan.

Opportunity knocks a second time and Reece has the answer

Two years after a hamstring tweak in the captain's run robbed him of an Origin debut at the tender age of 18, Walsh is back at the summit and ready to grab his opportunity with both hands in next Wednesday's series opener in Adelaide.

Walsh was just seven games into his NRL career at the Warriors when he was drafted into the Maroons squad for Game 2 in 2021, with some questioning whether he was physically and mentally ready for the Origin furnace.

Maroons surge to seal one of their greatest Origin series wins

The Maroons, ranked outsiders on home turf following their Origin II loss in Perth and reeling from the withdrawals of Cameron Munster and Murray Taulagi, shut the Blues out in the second half. 

Maroons fullback Kalyn Ponga responded to critics to put on a masterclass in the second half and come up with the match-winning play after the Blues held a 12-10 lead after 60 minutes. 

His solo effort, and miraculous performances from Ben Hunt and Daly Cherry-Evans, got the Maroons home. 

Gilbert to debut as Maroons name team for Origin decider

Kaufusi, who scored the first try of Game Two and has made 14 appearances for the Maroons since his Origin debut in 2018, is unavailable due to family reasons.

Instead, Slater will turn to Cowboys young gun Jeremiah Nanai in the back row, with Gilbert set to join Harry Grant, Jai Arrow and Patrick Carrigan on the bench.

Cleary sublime as brilliant Blues level series in Perth

Blues coach Brad Fittler made a number of changes after a first-up loss in Sydney and was vindicated as Matt Burton shone on debut and Jake Trbojevic was immense in his return to the Origin arena.

The series now heads to Brisbane for a decider on July 13 with NSW carrying huge momentum and Billy Slater's Maroons needing to regroup.

Six minutes into the contest it was Maroons flyer Selwyn Cobbo with a chance to open the scoring but he was denied by a great cover tackle from Brian To'o.