• Andrew Johns is confident Mitchell Pearce will steer NSW to an Origin series win on Wednesday night. (AAP)Source: AAP
Former rugby league player Owen Craigie says this State of Origin series shows there’s a great future for Aboriginal players, and NSW will either win game three by 20, or they’ll lose convincingly.
Owen Craigie

Over the Black Dot
12 Jul 2017 - 12:27 PM  UPDATED 12 Jul 2017 - 12:27 PM

I said before the State of Origin series that I thought it would be one of the best Origin series ever. It’s certainly lived up to expectations. It really has.

For example, NSW went up there to Queensland and won game one on their turf. Game two, Queensland coming down here and they stole it from NSW on their turf.

So the third battle is gonna be massive. It’s lived up to everyone’s expectations but now the limelight’s on it, which player is gonna stand up and deliver? Or which players from each team can take game three by storm?

They’ll win by 20 I reckon NSW, or they’ll lose convincingly. They’ll either overpower them or they’ll end up losing the game themselves.

I think everyone is promoting it as just about the greatest Origin series of all time. And given that it’s one-all, I think that’s the way your Origins are probably best watched. It’s one-all and we’re goin to the third game not knowing which way to go and to be quite honest, I couldn’t pick it.

I’m hearing good things that the NSW camp are switched on and they’ll go up there and win by 20. But then I’m hearing that Queensland have got their little tactics and they’ll pull it from underneath them and take the Origin series again.

In game three, something people should look out for, there’s a lot of new players coming from Queensland. So from the Queensland side of things, they should be ready to watch some of these future stars come out and try and win the game for Queensland, try and do something special on the big stage that’ll make them household names forever, which Queensland are renowned for.

And for NSW, you can probably expect an ambush from NSW to go up there. They’ll win by 20 I reckon NSW, or they’ll lose convincingly. They’ll either overpower them or they’ll end up losing the game themselves.

I think that’ll happen because from game one they came out and set the world on fire. And game two they were winning the first 40 minutes and then they threw the game away. I think it’s all attitude and it’s all mental from NSW and if they can hold it together and do as they did in game one, I think they could win the game convincingly. Because Queensland will be missing Thurston, the greatest player of all time.

But I think there’s a great future for Aboriginal players. Seeing now in the Origin series, you’ve got about eight or nine players across both teams as well as the coach of NSW, taking part in the biggest rugby league game in the world.

The tough part for all of these players will then be going back and playing in the National Rugby League on the weekend.

But I think it’s part and parcel of the game - it is what it is.

I think that some of the players, most of the players today are up for it. Every kid dreams of winning a grand final or playing Origin. But it will take its toll on the players.

This period right now in the game, this stage will separate the great teams from the good teams from the OK teams.

Origin season really puts a tough spin on a lot of teams after origin. A lot of payers get burnt out, injuries. The top eight might change over the next couple of weeks after this Origin series due to injuries and a lot of players playing too much footy in a short space of time.

But I think it’s part and parcel of the game - it is what it is.

The game’s not perfect and neither’s any other game, but there’s still gonna be mistakes made and with the bargaining agreement with the players, hopefully that’ll get sorted really soon. But from me being a spectator now, I just hope that they can sort it out so that we can all sit back in our lounge chairs on weekends and enjoy a beer and enjoy a game of footy.

Because the boys today, they’re machines. They train every day and the probably get a day off a week and they play well week-in, week-out for their cubs, then go and play rep games on top of it. Some of these guys end up playing 30-plus games through the year. And to be bashed and tackled and the way the game’s based around speed now and aggression, you take your hat off to these guys.

And we as spectators and we as ex-footballers, the game evolves and changes every couple of years and we should be very proud and be very thankful that these young men put their bodies on the line every week and stay injury free and keep entertaining us.

To hear more from Owen Craigie and for all of your rugby league news, tune in to Over the Black Dot on NITV at 9.30pm each Wednesday.