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3 days ago
One could forgive Queensland forward Steve Price for heading straight to the bench when referee Bill Harrigan whistles a start to Wednesday night's State of Origin battle.
After all, that's where the Bulldogs' front-rower has been at the kick-off of his previous 11 Origin games.
But not this time.
This time Price will start his first Origin for Queensland in front of a sell-out Telstra Stadium crowd of 80,000.
And the 101kg Price says he can't wait to savour the early minutes of Origin which are as intense as the last final minutes are demanding.
"To actually get out there and be involved in it from the start is going to be an experience I don't think I'll ever forget," said the 29-year-old forward.
"The last Origin was probably the most physical and fastest I've seen since I've been involved and I'm expecting it to be the same on Wednesday night.
"It's a do-or-die game for us so the desperation will certainly be there from our side and they'll certainly want to seal the series in front of their fans for sure."
Maroons skipper Gorden Tallis said Price, who holds the record for the most number of games off the bench for Queensland, had earned a crack at starting.
"He's overdue for a start," Tallis said.
"He's played a dozen or so of these games off the bench and you want people who go out and play 80 minutes and Steve can certainly do that."
A one-club player with the Bulldogs, Price made a memorable Origin debut scoring a try - his only one so far in Origin - in Queensland's 24-23 escape in the first game in Sydney in 1998.
This year, he made 21 tackles off the bench in the first Origin game, 10 of which were dominant and Queensland desperately need his high workrate on Wednesday night to slow down the Blues' roll.
"These are the game you look forward to, obviously the big atmosphere, the games you want to play in and look back on when you're finished playing rugby league and say I was proud and honoured to be a part of.
"They're 80 minutes like club football but they go very quickly"
While Queensland played on heart in the second half with three key players, hooker PJ Marsh, centre Justin Hodges and utility reserve Paul Bowman, all out of action, Price felt players could do still give more to the cause on Wednesday night.
"I think there was a couple of us who didn't play to our best and I was one of them.
"New South Wales played really well and did some pretty good things for fairly much all the game and (we) did it for three quarters of the game and probably not for the last 15 or 20 minutes.
"You can put that down to guys being injured, and running out of players or whatever but I know I didn't play as well as I could and there was probably a couple of others who would admit they didn't play as well as they could.
"You can always improve.
"You never play a perfect, except for Andrew Johns, who played pretty well that night."
The Maroons trained twice in private on Sunday and had Monday off before flying to Sydney on Tuesday for their final training run at Telstra Stadium which is sold-out for the game.