State of Origin II has given Queensland a lot to think about ahead of Game III.
Witnessing the comprehensive demolition of the Maroons first hand it is hard to reconcile how they could possibly bounce back in the decider away from home on July 10.
When looking at all the objective measures New South Wales completely dominated the game in every area. Possession, completions, tackle effectiveness and ruck control statistics all favoured the Blues.
NSW had ten players run for over 100 metres with James Tedesco and Josh Addo-Carr even passing 200m. Only two Queenslanders managed to pass 10 metres.
So how does Maroons coach Kevin Walters address all these deficiencies in a limited amount of time and preparation available?
He could emulate Freddy and make wholesale changes, perhaps bring Kyle Feldt onto the wing and move Dane Gagai to centre, with Michael Morgan providing some strike-power off the bench.
Jai Arrow could come into the starting team along with David Fifita, which would open up bench spots for Joe Ofehengaue and Christian Welch.
This formula could certainly deliver more power and a threat to the Maroons but it is unlikely to be enough.
While never having coached at the Origin level, I certainly have had to deal with the consequences of copping a shellacking during my time in the NRL and can only imagine that the elevated expectations, scrutiny and consequences are even harder to contain and deal with.
Still, for Queensland there is one big empowering opportunity that this pressure brings and that is the opportunity to do something extraordinary.
Our greatest achievements in life are usually when the pressure is on.
It is the same on and off the field. As an individual, parent or professional your biggest and best moments in life don’t come when things are easy, they happen when you are not expected to be able to complete the task.
This where Queensland sit going into Game III.
This is the subjective side of performance that is impossible to measure.
Individual attitude, group connection and a total belief in the coach are the key drivers that must be tapped into.
These elevated mental and emotional states can bring the tiny percentages of improvement in skill execution, decision-making and physical output that can turn a sporting performance from ordinary to elite.
Again this isn’t confined to the rugby league field, it is something every single one of us has done at some stage in our life where we overcome a challenge not based on the past but on a belief that we can do it.
How does it happen? We have already seen how it is done in the series to date.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters engaged Bradley ‘The Coach Whisperer’ Stubbs in game one to narrow the focus of his team around what they needed to do rather than on the opposition.
Brad Fittler then brought NSW together in game two by installing a siege mentality around personalities he knew could get buy in and take the whole team along for the ride.
In my experience the motivation of your playing group through the use of external factors like we have witnessed to date can only have a short term effect on individuals.
Those cards have been this series already and now Origin III will be won by the team that can draw on their own internal drive and inspiration.
This is something that Mal Meninga has excelled at the representative level by giving young men the intrinsic purpose of representing themselves, their families, the people that follow them and the players of the past.
Queenslanders will be hoping Walters can channel the extraordinary qualities that run strong in his group when next they meet the Blues.