SMITH FACES

Townsville Bulletin - - STATE OF ORIGIN III - TODD BA­LYM PETER BADEL

Q U E E N S L A N D c a p t a i n Cameron Smith is ready to con­front the big­gest chal­lenge of his Ori­gin ca­reer and lead the Ma­roons to a record ninth se­ries win in 10 years at the Caul­dron.

Never be­fore has Smith con­fronted a chal­lenge such as tonight and it will take all of his men­tal for­ti­tude and lead­er­ship to lift the Ori­gin se­ries tro­phy again for Queens­land.

Smith has been a man un­der siege since the air­ing of the Alex McKin­non al­le­ga­tions on Sun­day night but prior to that episode, the Queens­land cap­tain was com­posed and con­fi­dent in his fi­nal in­ter­view be­fore kick- off.

Smith does not un­der­es­ti­mate the task his men face at Sun­corp Sta­dium.

This NSW team, the reign­ing Ori­gin cham­pi­ons, are a far more po­tent and dan­ger­ous force than any Blues team Smith has faced in the past decade.

They have belief, they have strike power and they know fi­nally what it takes to beat Queens­land at the Caul­dron hav­ing done it here last year.

“Ab­so­lutely I be­lieve they’ve be­come a much bet­ter team over the last two or three years there is no doubt

I thought we played one of the best

games we’ve played in a long time in Game One and we only came away with a one­point vic­tory

CAMERON SMITH

about that,” Smith said. “That is why the games are so much harder and so much closer.

“I thought we played one of the best games we’ve played in a long time in Game One and we only came away with a one­point vic­tory.

“That is how close the two teams are per­for­mance- wise. They’ve had a few changes to their squad over the last few years and ob­vi­ously a new coach and I think a bit of a dif­fer­ent set up to­wards their camp and the way they go about things, that’s im­proved them.

“They needed to do that be­cause they lost eight in a row. They’re a qual­ity out­fit at the mo­ment and they’ve got a lot of con­fi­dence off game two.” This is the first time in Smith’s cap­taincy that he is lead­ing a team into a de­cider w h e n Q u e e n s - land is not the curr e n t s h i e l d hold­ers.

Wors e for Queens­land to con­sider, NSW cap­tain Paul Gallen could be hoist­ing the Ori­gin shield above his head for the sec­ond time in as many years in Bris­bane.

Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES

HARD- HIT­TING: Josh Pa­palii takes on the de­fence dur­ing the Ma­roons’ State of Ori­gin cap­tain’s run at Sun­corp Sta­dium yesterday.

Cameron Smith.

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