Smith counting on Blues backlash in the decider

APN SPORT BUREAUNRL: Queensland captain Cameron Smith thinks New South Wales will be even harder to beat in tomorrow night's decider with Paul Gallen out of the team.

While Smith was full of praise for what his opposite number brought to the table, he said he expected the Blues to lift to compensate for their skipper's absence.

"There's no doubt he is a huge loss. He's their captain and he's a guy that it doesn't matter what situation their team is in, he puts his hand up to do plenty of work," Smith said.

"But we've had a bit of a chat about his withdrawal. We don't think they are an easier side to play against because Paul Gallen is out.

"If anything its probably made them a bit more mobile.

"We knew if Paul Gallen played he wasn't going to be 100 per cent fit, but now they've got Aaron Woods and Boyd Cordner who are both 100 per cent fit, so they are going to be ready to play."

Meanwhile NSW coach Laurie Daley says he was not concerned about the prospect of Queensland's forwards, particularly back-rower Sam Thaiday, again targeting Blues five-eighth James Maloney, a tactic they used to good effect in game two.

Daley has the option of moving hard nut Greg Bird into the halves to partner Mitchell Pearce, and starting Maloney on the bench, but said he was confident the Roosters playmaker was up to the challenge.

"I think James is a wonderful player," Daley said. "He is good to have around the camp and is a guy that knows what coming.

"Every Origin game is tough and all the little blokes always get targeted - this will be no different.

"He'll know Thaiday will be coming at him and he has to do his job. I am confident he will."

Daley also said he was not concerned about the inexperience of prop Aaron Woods who struggled on his Origin debut in game two of this year's series, or the fact Boyd Cordner will pull on a Blues jersey for the first time tomorrow night.

"It gives us plenty of size and mobility," Daley said.

"It's no secret that big games are won through the middle, but even though our guys are young, inexperienced and taking on a champion team, I'm confident they will do a job."

With the honurs shared after the first two games, Daley hopes to become the first NSW coach since Ricky Stuart in 2005 to lead the Blues to an Origin series victory.



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