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4 days ago
New South Wales and Queensland will both hold their final training runs at Suncorp Stadium later today as they wrap up preparations for tomorrow night's State of Origin series finale.
The Maroons return to Brisbane after a low-key camp on the Gold Coast while New South Wales will have their only run north of the border after arriving in enemy territory yesterday. The Blues have gone into damage control over rumours of player dissatisfaction with coach Graham Murray, halfback Brett Kimmorley claiming the majority of the team is behind the embattled coach.
Queensland upped the ante in their bid for a series clean sweep with captain Darren Lockyer saying it was payback time following New South Wales' 56-16 drubbing of the Maroons en route to a clean sweep in the 2000 series.
Lockyer is tipping a fired-up Carl Webb to make a big impact. Webb was kept relatively quiet in game two in Sydney, where the Maroons wrapped up the series 2-0, and missed the opening match in Brisbane because of a hamstring injury.
But Lockyer believes the North Queensland prop is pumped for a big performance at Suncorp Stadium as the Maroons attempt to secure their first series whitewash in 12 years.
The Maroons will leave their Gold Coast base this morning and travel up to Brisbane to wrap up preparations for the big game.
Lockyer has also called on the game's administrators to take action to deter stars like Craig Gower, Shaun Berrigan and Matt King from leaving Australia to accept lucrative contracts with foreign clubs.
Australian Rugby League boss Geoff Carr says the hysteria surrounding the exodus of NRL players to overseas clubs is unjustified.
Carr believes there's no need to panic, saying those players deserve to extend their careers overseas after years of service in the NRL. He says the real concern will be when overseas clubs start poaching the NRL's young superstars.
In the Blues camp, coach Graham Murray says he will put personal feelings aside as he attempts to restore the state's pride in tomorrow night's State of Origin dead rubber.
Murray has been the subject of personal attacks in the media since the weekend, the under siege mentor admitting rumours of player disharmony had hurt his side's build-up. But the Blues coach, who is almost certain to be replaced for next year's series after only one win from his five Origin matches to date, described the criticism as a fact of life.
Murray says he will not address the players over the alleged disunity ahead of the game.
On the club scene, the Bulldogs have stormed back into finals contention with a rampant 38-6 victory over the Sydney Roosters at Telstra Stadium. The Bulldogs jumped into 10th place on the ladder and are in a logjam of six teams on 16 points, which stretches from seventh-placed Brisbane to 12th-placed Newcastle.
Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce will be sent for scans on an injured back today while fullback Amos Roberts will be sweating on the match review committee after a high tackle on Aaron Wheatley late in the game.