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


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.


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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