Gallen a backfire waiting for NSW
FORMER New South Wales pivot Scott Hill believes coach Laurie Daley's likely decision to gamble on the fitness of Paul Gallen and Greg Bird may spell doom for the Cockroaches.
Gallen has not played since injuring his foot in the Blues' 26-6 loss to Queensland in Origin II. He was originally expected to miss up to five weeks.
Bird was examined yesterday by the Blues doctor and given a 90% chance of playing.
With the series on the line, NSW desperately needs its captain to play if it is to end Queensland's State of Origin domination at seven years.
The loss of their inspirational skipper would compound the Blues' already grim situation following the withdrawal of freakish superstar Jarryd Hayne, who was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
As well, front-rower James Tamou (ribs) is awaiting scan results.
Considering the importance of Gallen and Bird's experience in a relatively young side, Hill said Daley had little choice but to include the veterans in game three next Wednesday night in Sydney.
"I think Daley will have them there even if they are underdone, because they are such strong Origin leaders and without them, New South Wales will struggle because they don't have many genuine Origin leaders," he said.
"It's a tough one because those two, especially Gallen, are able to bring out the passion within each player.
"You have to be 200% ready mentally to be able to play with the right conviction required for Origin, which is what Paul Gallen and Greg Bird do for this New South Wales side."
With Daley to make a decision on Bird and Gallen on Friday, Hill said having two leading players on the paddock in sub-par condition could open a range of problems for NSW.
"If they do play and are injured, Queensland will target them and they might come unstuck," he said.
"Origin is so fast and tough and if you are only 5% off you will get found out, and you can't afford to do that with this Queensland side.
"Gallen and Bird are two of the toughest around, but Origin is a different beast."
With a sellout confirmed at Sydney's ANZ Stadium, Hill implored the Blues to avoid the complacency that might arise in a stadium filled with 90,000 screaming New South Wales supporters.
"You'd think having a home-ground advantage would work in your favour, but it can work against you if you start to thinking it's going to get you over the line," he said.
"The Queenslanders thrive on the siege mentality and I know from my time in Melbourne that we used it to our advantage, which is what the Maroons will be looking to do next week."