QUEENSLAND was outplayed, out muscled and overrun by New South Wales in State of Origin II.
But Maroons veteran Petero Civoniceva says there is just one aspect of tomorrow’s third and deciding match of the series which will go a long way to crowning a winner.
The battle of the forwards.
The lightweight Blues forwards dictated terms in Sydney three weeks ago to level the series and Civoniceva, who will make his 30th Origin appearance at Suncorp Stadium, says Queensland’s muscle cannot let that occur again.
“We were all disappointed but as a pack we didn’t stamp our authority like we did in game one,” he said at the team’s Hyatt Regency Coolum training base yesterday.
“I guess that was down to a really grinding start. I think what we’re best at is playing explosive footy.
“We all love carrying that football forward.
"We’re all strong defenders and we didn’t have that same impact as in game one.
"That’s something we’ve addressed as a forward pack.”
Queensland was camped on New South Wales’s defensive line in the early stages of Origin I on the back of barnstorming hit-ups from Civoniceva and fellow prop Matt Scott.
But the Blues had most of the momentum and field position in the sequel with halves Mitchell Pearce and Jamie Soward able to orchestrate points on the back of it.
Civoniceva, 35, said Maroons playmakers Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and hooker Cameron Smith had no chance of putting points on the board if Queensland’s engine room did not fire.
“If we’re going to build that momentum for Locky, Johnathan and Cameron, we need to have a more dominant role there,” he said of his fellow forwards.
“I know we’re capable of that. We’re ready to battle it out.”
Civoniceva said the Maroons spent the weekend trying to rectify the problems of game two, where errors and rusty plays limited them to only eight points.
“There’s a lot of improvement in this team, especially in our last performance,” he said.
“The thing in the back of our minds is we’ve got to find that improvement if we’re going to send Locky away the way he deserves.”
Blues coach Ricky Stuart raised the ire of Queenslanders by claiming Pearce was the best halfback in the world.
“I’m not going to buy into it too much, that’s his opinion and he’s entitled to his opinion,” Civoniceva said.
“I know we’ve got a number 7 that will want to prove him wrong on Wednesday night and there’s a lot of people that think differently.
“I’m very happy with the number 7 we’ve got out there.
"If you get rated amongst the best you’ve got to step up to the plate and play like that every weekend. You put yourself out there.
"You’ve got to be able to handle that. I guess we’ll wait and see.”