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.