The return of Cooper Cronk's calming influence could not have come soon enough for Queensland pivot Johnathan Thurston.
Thurston has predicted more niggling tactics from NSW in Wednesday night's State of Origin series finale at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane after tensions threatened to reach boiling point in game two in Sydney.
Key playmaker Thurston has been heavily targeted all series by NSW but appeared to feel the heat in Origin II, slapping Beau Scott across the face and almost coming to blows with Blues pivot Josh Reynolds.
The Maroons playmaker also appears irked by criticism of his defence, questioning one journalist about an article that mentioned his 11 missed tackles this series.
However, halfback Cronk's return from the broken arm he suffered in game one looks set to help keep Thurston's emotions in check for a potentially explosive game three.
"He has calmness beyond his years," said Thurston of Cronk, who has relegated young Manly star Daly Cherry-Evans to the Maroons bench just five weeks after suffering his arm fracture.
"Daly was very harsh on himself after the second game.
"But it is good to have Cooper back.
"It is good to hear a familiar voice and he gets the boys around the park better than most ... and I just play off the back of that."
Thurston spoke in glowing terms of Cherry-Evans but admitted Queensland weren't the same without his right hand man Cronk.
"Obviously we missed him the first couple of games," said Thurston.