Maroons may be playing for their Origin lives
QUEENSLAND coach Mal Meninga might be unable to save the Origin careers of several players if NSW secures back-to-back series' wins at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
Meninga managed to stay loyal to his players for this year's series, giving them an opportunity for redemption.
But Maroon selectors will not be so forgiving in the face of successive series defeats for the first time since 2004-05.
While long-serving centre Justin Hodges will play his 24th and final Origin in front of a packed house, Meninga may be forced to pension off some of his teammates with NSW already in a rebuilding phase.
Meninga, who will tonight celebrate his 55th birthday and 35 years to the day he played in the first Origin game alongside Arthur Beatson, said Origin would be different without Hodges.
"He's a wonderful character who can give a bit of cheek and cop it as well," he said.
Several young players, including Roosters hitman Dylan Napa and exciting Cronulla winger Valentine Holmes are already pressing for call-ups.
Queensland has to match NSW's aggression and enthusiasm in the opening 15-20 minutes after being caught short in Melbourne, where the Blues' forwards bullied them up the middle.
If the "crash and smash" brothers James Tamou, Aaron Woods and David Klemmer repeat their Origin II dominance, then Queensland's forwards, especially middlemen Matt Scott, Nate Myles and Josh Papalii, will have to push themselves to levels they may not have visited previously.
NSW skipper Paul Gallen jokingly used the term "lunatic" when discussing Klemmer's nature.
The reality is, unless Queensland finds a way, or a player to handle his fearless brutality carrying the ball, the Blues will bulldoze their way to a series-deciding win and be able to lay claim to their own dynasty building.