NSW coach Brad Fittler is adamant his team can repeat their game-two clampdown on Queensland’s new-look attack in the State of Origin decider.
Fittler is expecting a different look from the Maroons in game three after the injury withdrawal of star fullback Kalyn Ponga.
Ponga’s absence has forced Queensland to move Cameron Munster to fullback and hand Corey Norman his Origin debut at five-eighth.
Fittler concedes the Norman factor presents a new challenge for his defence, which had limited the Maroons to a penalty try in Perth.
“(Queensland will) definitely be different. The way Corey Norman … not many people play like him. He’s just got a style of his own,” Fittler said.
“So the blokes playing week in, week out, will have had a good look at him. I’m pretty confident we can shut it down.”
Norman re-unites with St George Illawarra halves partner Ben Hunt, who has blossomed at hooker this series for Queensland.
The pair have struck up a strong chemistry at the Dragons, with Norman setting up 11 tries and making just as many line breaks.
Hunt has 12 try assists and 13 line-break assists.
With two more training sessions until game day, Fittler is confident his side will be adequately prepared for whatever Queensland throw at them at ANZ Stadium.
“(The players) do a lot of research on these fellas, week in, week out. They know a lot of their mannerisms and habits and traits they go back to,” Fittler said.
“We obviously go through their team and look at what we think can happen.
“But I’m very confident in what we’re doing in our training sessions can stop what they want to throw at us.”
The Blues have a new spine of their own after the dramatic recall of veteran playmaker Mitchell Pearce in place of the injured Nathan Cleary.
The former NSW No.7 had just two sessions with the team before the squad broke camp for the weekend.
Fittler is hoping Pearce’s familiarity with a number of current Newcastle teammates, and former Sydney Roosters players, can hasten their preparation.
Pearce and five-eighth James Maloney won a grand final together in 2013 at the Roosters, and featured in two Origin series in 2013 and 2017.
“It’s more the fact that him and James Maloney work together,” Fittler said.
“That’s the key. Fact is they’ve played grand finals together and a lot of big games together. So that will be a help, unbelievably, going into a big game.
“They just know each other’s voice. They know people around them.”
© AAP 2019