League: Elias predicts Origin clean-sweep

By Laine Clark

Ex-Blues skipper books game-three ticket so he can personally see tears in the Queenslanders' eyes.

Ben Elias. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Elias. Photo / Getty Images

The man who literally bled for NSW - ex-skipper Ben Elias - has encouraged the Blues to maintain their niggling tactics, saying they should do what it takes to ensure a rare State of Origin whitewash.

And Elias is so confident of NSW "doing the full job" on the Maroons in what he predicts will be an explosive game three tonight that he will attend the Suncorp Stadium clash so he can "personally see the tears in Queenslanders' eyes".

Elias conjured one of Origin's enduring images when he braved a head gash that required 10 stitches to step in for injured skipper Laurie Daley and lead the Blues to a 14-6 game one victory in 1992.

A still bleeding Elias was captured by cameras being attended to by his mother Barbara after his man-of-the-match effort that set up NSW's series win.

So it's no surprise that the ex-Blues rake has urged NSW to "do what we have to do" to seal a morale-boosting sweep over the former eight-time Origin champions.

"Call it niggling, call it dirty, call it whatever you want," said Elias, with NSW poised to seal their first whitewash in 14 years.

"We will do what we have to do to win it 3-0."

Queensland pivot Johnathan Thurston has braced himself for the worst in game three after tensions threatened to reach boiling point in the second game in Sydney.

Thurston has been heavily targeted all series by NSW but appeared to feel the heat in game two, slapping Beau Scott across the face and almost coming to blows with Blues pivot Josh Reynolds.

Elias predicted Thurston ain't seen nothing yet.

"One hundred per cent I expect it to be explosive," he said. "I know from the past that there is no such thing as a dead rubber in Origin."

Elias said he had never felt more "hollow" than when he raised the Origin trophy in 1990 after Queensland avoided a clean sweep by winning game three in Brisbane.

But he was so confident that current Blues skipper Paul Gallen would avoid his fate that he booked a game three ticket.

"I want to personally see the tears in the Queenslanders' eyes," laughed Elias, a veteran of 19 Origins.

Key match ups

Johnathan Thurston v Josh Reynolds
Who would have thought the two five-eighths would have been involved in the ugliest incident in Origin II. Reynolds started it with a subtle cheap shot and then Thurston went overboard with a forearm into Reynolds' throat. The pair apologised to each other post-match. But Reynolds will push the boundaries again and Thurston is the most competitive player in the world.

Greg Inglis v Josh Dugan
Josh Morris -- the man who has defended Inglis so well in the past, is back in the NSW team. But he won't dislodge Dugan who retains his place on the right going toe-to-toe with the most dangerous attacking weapon on the field. Dugan has made a great fist of centre, but he doesn't have much experience in defensive reads -- and if Inglis is on song he can really put the New South Welshman through his paces.

Billy Slater v Jarryd Hayne
The ultimate match-up. The two best fullbacks in league and arguably the two best players. Slater has had a mortgage on the Australian No 1 jersey for a long time, but Hayne is edging closer to stealing it from him. The Parramatta star has been simply outstanding this year in Origin and club football. But despite early criticism, Slater has also been strong. If either of these brilliant ball-runners breaks into the backfield, watch for the other to come hunting in defence. An epic showdown awaits.

Origin III
NSW v Queensland
Suncorp Stadium, 10.15 tonight.

- AAP

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