DE­CIDER ON FOR

The Ma­roons hope to send Justin Hodges out in style, but David Klem­mer and his NSW team­mates have other ideas,

Townsville Bulletin - - STATE OF ORIGIN III - writes Laine Clark

Emo­tional swan­songs? Check. In­jury dra­mas? Yep. Con­spir­acy the­o­ries? Of course. Any­one north of the Tweed River a David Klem­mer fan? Prob­a­bly not.

Ei­ther way, the script could not have been writ­ten bet­ter for the State of Ori­gin se­ries de­cider in Bris­bane.

The Ma­roons will have ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion as they look to send vet­eran cen­tre Justin Hodges out a win­ner in front of a sold- out crowd at Sun­corp Sta­dium.

Few will for­get Hodges’ Ori­gin de­but in game two in 2002 – but for all the wrong rea­sons. Picked at 19 and out of po­si­tion on the wing, Hodges never looked at home but still sur­prised when he suf­fered one of the great brain snaps – twice.

In a gaffe that would ri­val maligned NSW half Mitchell Pearce’s YouTube blooper reel, Hodges fielded a grub­ber in- goal be­fore in­ex­pli­ca­bly throw­ing a hail Mary pass and gift­ing NSW a try.

That was dif­fi­cult to fathom, which made it even harder to be­lieve he did it again barely 30 min­utes later.

Fast- for­ward 13 years and the 23- Ori­gin vet­eran has ma­tured into a Ma­roons leader, the 33- year- old a main­stay of Queens­land’s record eight straight se­ries streak that ended last year.

Queens­land be­lieve re­claim­ing the Ori­gin ti­tle would pro­vide a fit­ting send- off. How­ever, NSW bruiser Klem­mer is mak­ing a habit of spoil­ing Queens­land’s plans.

The fiery 200cm, 120kg for­ward will be public en­emy No. 1 when he is in­jected off the bench. Rel­ish­ing his first Ori­gin se­ries, the 21- year- old has ruf­fled feath­ers with his in- your- face ap­proach, but Queens­land think he went too far in their 26- 18 game- two loss in Mel­bourne.

Sick of Klem­mer mouthing off in his sec­ond match, 33- year- old Ma­roons vet­eran Corey Parker de­manded his young ri­val “show some re­spect”. Judg­ing by the ex­ple­tive- rid­dled re­sponse, Klem­mer didn’t grant the re­quest.

With a tar­get on his shaved head, Klem­mer will again look to spark the mon­ster NSW pack that has dom­i­nated at times this se­ries.

Another in the lime­light is NSW team­mate Rob­bie Farah. The hooker is keen to play game three af­ter hav­ing hand surgery the day be­fore he ar­rived in NSW camp at Coffs Har­bour – al­beit af­ter he was stopped board­ing his ini­tial flight be­cause he hadn’t re­ceived a med­i­cal clear­ance.

In the mean­time, nig­gling Cronulla rake Michael En­nis looms as his re­place­ment de­spite re­ceiv­ing a onegame ban from the NRL ju­di­ciary. In a move that will stoke Queens­land’s ever- flickering con­spir­acy the­ory fires, NSW can ex­ploit a loop­hole that al­lows En­nis to don the Blues No. 9 jersey if Farah suc­cumbs.

Queens­land also have in­jury dra­mas, as their back­line has been reshuf­fled af­ter full­back Billy Slater had sea­son- end­ing shoul­der surgery.

Greg Inglis moves to No. 1, Will Cham­bers shifts to the cen­tres and New­cas­tle young gun Dane Ga­gai makes his Ori­gin de­but on the wing.

The Ma­roons will also sweat on re­turn­ing half­back Cooper Cronk, who hasn’t played since miss­ing game two with a knee in­jury.

His stun­ning come­back en­sured there was no room for dis­ap­point­ing game two half­back Daly Cherry- Evans in the Ma­roons’ 17.

The po­lar­is­ing Cherry- Evans may be known for a back­flip but Queens­land coach Mal Meninga could be ac­cused of somthing sim­i­lar.

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