Blues' Pearce unnerved by Origin return

Queensland are huge outsiders but plenty of focus is also on Mitchell Pearce for the Origin decider. (AAP)

Queensland are huge underdogs heading into Wednesday's State of Origin decider, but arguably the most pressure falls on NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce.

No Queensland side have been bigger outsiders for a State of Origin game, but arguably no NSW player enters one under more pressure than Mitchell Pearce.

Such are the stakes when the Blues host the Maroons in another eagerly anticipated Origin decider on Wednesday.

Pearce, who is yet to win an Origin decider in seven attempts, has been able to cast aside questions surrounding his recall by cocooning himself in camp.

But that doesn't mean he won't be nervous when he runs out in front of what is expected to be a sellout crowd at ANZ Stadium.

"You're not human if you don't. It makes you feel alive," Pearce tells AAP.

Blues coach Brad Fittler was heavily criticised for making seven changes to his game-two side that ended up romping over Queensland in Perth.

Since then it's been relatively smooth sailing, save for forward Tariq Sims being rubbed out by the judiciary and opening the door for David Klemmer's return.

One day later Nathan Cleary was ruled out with an ankle injury, paving the way for Pearce to have an eighth crack at defeating the Maroons.

Boyd Cordner, who stands to become the first NSW captain in 14 years to defend a shield, believes Pearce is primed to change his Origin story.

"A lot of the times, a lot of that criticism can cruel players for a bit and take a while to get over," Cordner said.

"But he's got thick skin.

"He's been through a lot. I suppose that's made him the player he is today, and his form at the Knights has shown that. He's ready for this."

The Maroons have been on the back foot since Perth.

Star Kalyn Ponga was ruled out the day before team selection with an calf injury, prompting a backline reshuffle that has resulted in Corey Norman's debut.

Then veteran second-rower Matt Gillett was ruled out on Tuesday with a groin issue, giving Ethan Lowe or Dylan Napa a chance of being rushed in.

It all adds up to NSW being the shortest-priced favourites in Origin history.

Reminded of how the Maroons have often enjoyed success as underdogs, Queensland coach Kevin Walters wasn't arguing.

"Tomorrow night is about making every Queenslander proud again. That's the objective of the 17," he said.

"It's all about our attitude and how we have prepared for the game."

STATS THAT MATTER

* NSW have only won four of 15 Origin deciders.

* The past seven Origins at ANZ Stadium have been decided by four points or fewer, with the winning team failing to score more than 18 points.

* Scoring a total of 24 points across the opening two games, Queensland are in danger of having their fewest points in a series in 20 years.

Source AAP

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