NSW coach Brad Fittler says the Blues will again base their game plan on intensity and focusing on key effort areas in the Game Three decider, an approach that secured the side a major against-the-odds win in Game Two.
New South Wales were a step ahead of the Maroons right from the whistle in Perth, both in attack and defence, which helped them claim an emphatic 38-6 win over Queensland to level the series and set up a deciding game in Sydney.
The Blues’ ferocious line speed helped dominate the yardage battle, as they ran for 723 more metres than Queensland, with eight NSW players gaining more than 100 metres across the 80 minutes.
With the first back-to-back State of Origin titles since ‘04-05 on the line, Fittler knows the same level of intensity and commitment will be required for the Blues to again lift the shield at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday.
“It will be very disappointing if we didn’t base our game on what we did in Perth” Fittler said on Thursday after training.
“(That win) was all on the effort areas and working for each other, so if that happens then you normally get to play a bit of footy.
“Everytime we come together there’s been plenty of intent, and they know there’s a big challenge ahead.”
The Blues were dealt a double blow on Wednesday, when a fitness test ruled Nathan Cleary out and Tariq Sims was unsuccessful at the judiciary the night prior. The Blues welcomed seasoned Origin stars Mitchell Pearce and David Klemmer straight into camp, providing the young side with a crucial 31-game boost in Origin level experience.
After coming close to selection in the first two games of the series, Fittler says Pearce has slotted into the squad seamlessly.
“He’s got a relationship with a lot of these blokes, and the fact is when we lose someone like Nathan who’s such a vital part of our team, and then you bring in someone like Pearce who’s won grand finals and played State of Origin before and is in the form of his life, it’s a massive bonus,” he added.
Whilst the game plan around Pearce is straightforward, Fittler admits the Blues are still developing a strategy for how they’ll use Klemmer, after fellow Knights teammate David Saifiti and Jake Trbojevic started Game Two strongly paired together in the middle.
“We’ll sit down and come up with a plan. I think at the moment what happened in Game Two worked really well.”
“We’ve got different personnel now so we’ve got to work that out.”
After a gruelling session on Friday in Coogee, the Blues will returned to camp on Sunday to dive head first into the deep end of their preparations for the all-important decider on Wednesday night.