Brad Fittler has labelled clinching a State of Origin series in Queensland as one of the toughest things to do in rugby league as NSW try to defy history.
And he would know.
Wednesday’s Origin decider in Brisbane shapes as the most difficult task of Fittler’s tenure as NSW coach, with the Blues aiming to complete their own three-peat.
NSW have won just two of 11 deciders in Brisbane, with those coming way back in 1994 and 2005.
Fittler himself has played in four such deciders, winning one in 2005 while suffering losses in 1991 and 2001 while also coming away with a draw in 1999.
“It’s proven (it’s one of the toughest things to do),” Fittler said.
“In 40 years we have done it twice. It’s not easy.
“That’s what Origin is always about, going up there and trying to win. They talk about their spirit, whatever it is they just play better up there.
“A lot of things against them (in Sydney). We spoke about (Cameron) Munster (being back) and travel.
“We need to know that next week is going to be a lot tougher.”
NSW have only won two of their past 13 games at Suncorp Stadium since 2010, losing deciders in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017 on the trot.
It is however not lost on Fittler the eerie similarities between this team and the two who have succeeded previously, telling his current side to channel them.
The 1994 and 2005 squads are also the only groups to have completed three-peats in NSW’s history, with the 2020 crew aiming to join them next week.
This year’s task will however be extra difficult, even after this week’s 34-10 flogging of the Maroons at ANZ Stadium.
The Blues will only fly up to Queensland hours before kick off, and will be unable to go to a hotel first to relax before kick off like both teams did in Adelaide.
Only three of the Blues have won at the ground in Origin previously in James Tedesco, Tyson Frizell and Daniel Tupo, while none have won deciders there.
And while the ground will only be 75 per cent full due to COVID, Blues hooker Damien Cook said the 39,000 Queenslanders would still be just as intimidating.
“It’s something a lot of us haven’t done, we haven’t won at Suncorp at all,” Cook said.
“To win a series up there would be very special … It would be a great feeling.
“Even (ANZ Stadium) wasn’t packed and it was still very loud out there. Suncorp is smaller and on top of you. It will still be pumping.”
Meanwhile the Maroons are adamant they can’t lean on the Lang Park advantage.
Queensland legend Wally Lewis even went as far as to claim it could lull players into a false sense of security if they weren’t ready for a Blues ambush.
“We have to turn up and be prepared to physically beat them,” fullback Valentine Holmes said.
“It’ll help them cheering for us, but it’s not going to score us tries or help stop them. We have to be better on field.”