Game three of this year’s State of Origin series is a dead rubber after Queensland beat the Blues in the first two matches – but Brad Fittler and his team have everything to play for after fans and pundits slammed them for their poor performance.
NSW made a number of changes for the clash in Sydney, some of which were controversial, while the Maroons managed to keep the core of their team together despite a few injuries.
Daily Mail Australia has everything you need to know ahead of the final game of the series…
Brad Fittler and the Blues will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the scene as the Queensland Stars celebrate their series-sealing win in two games.
When is it?
State of Origin game two is set to kick off on Wednesday night, at 8.05pm (AEST) and the gates to Acre Stadium will open from 5.30pm.
A curtain-raiser match featuring NSW Blue vs NSW Navy will take place from 5.50pm, before musicians Six60 will start the pre-match entertainment from 7.30pm.
Television coverage will begin on Channel Nine from 7pm.
Where is it being played? What weather is expected?
Game three is being held at Acre Stadium in Homebush, west of Sydney, where 30 State of Origin games have been held.
Weather conditions are expected to be perfect for footy with clear skies, no wind and a temperature of around 13 degrees expected at kick-off.
Blues coach Fittler is under immense pressure heading into the match and has made a number of changes to his squad as he chases a winning combination and responds to star injuries.
How can I see or hear?
The game is being broadcast live on Channel Nine in Australia, with pre-match analysis starting at 7pm for a scheduled 8.05pm kickoff. Viewers can also stream the broadcast on 9Now.
A number of radio stations will cover the game including ABC, Triple M Sydney, Triple M Brisbane, 2GB, 4BC, SEN and NRL Nation.
The game will be shown in New Zealand on SkyNZ, while other broadcasters will show the game around the world; From the US, the UK and the Pacific Islands to everywhere in between.
What are the parties? And who is the referee?
Brad Fittler is under tremendous pressure and has made many changes before two games as he tries to plug the holes created by injuries and find the winning combination that has eluded the team so far this year.
It is widely believed that another loss could cost him his job as NSW coach, although there are not many good candidates to replace him.
Ashley Klein is the lead whistleblower after serving three games last year. Dave Munro and Phil Henderson will be the touch judges, while Grant Atkins will be the Senior Box Review Officer.
New South Wales
Hudson Young, Jarome Luai, Junior Paolo, Matt Barton, Payne Haas, Stefano Utoikamanu, Tom Trbojevic and Tyson Frizzell are out.
Clint Gutherson, Cody Walker, Jacob Saifiti, Jack Trbojevic, Kion Kolomatangi, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Scott Drinkwater, Bradman Best and Spencer Lenew.
The inclusion of Newcastle star Best at center for Dogs Matt Burton has divided fans and pundits, while Luai was dropped to give Souths linchpin Walker another crack at the No.6 jersey for the Blues.
It has been rumored that Blues reserve forward Spencer Laneu could turn heads with his displays in training.
Bradman Best’s inclusion in the centers has drawn widespread criticism, with many fans and pundits preferring Canterbury’s Matt Burton in that spot.
Coach Billy Slater replaced the injured Reece Walsh with AJ Brimson at fullback, and debutant Corey Horsburgh helped in the absence of Thomas Feller. Jamaine Hopgood and Tom Dearden also come into the squad.
Lindsay Collins is reportedly likely to move into the starting lineup at the expense of Ruben Cotter or Tino Fa’Asumalewi.
Betting tips for game two
It may have been the Blues’ only home game of the series, but it didn’t do their odds any favors.
BetRite CEO Anthony Waller said, ‘Punters still want to stay in Queensland despite NSW home games and their team changes.
‘Queensland opened at $1.77 after the second game and steadily backed in. They were as low as $1.67 and are now at $1.72.
‘We took some sharp bets on Queensland at $1.77 and line -3.5.
‘There is money for Valentine Holmes for first tryscorer and Cherie Evans man of the match.’
At the time of writing, Xavier Coates was among the lowest odds to cross the line first at $10, with Cameron Munster ($8) favored to be named the best player on ground.