Smith's Game Two Message To Maroons
Queensland captain Cameron Smith has implored his players not to fall into the trap of 12 months ago, and to wrap up the 2016 Holden State of Origin Series on home soil rather than risk a decider in Sydney.
Despite the loss of Cooper Cronk through injury Queensland were heavy favourites to back up their one-point win at ANZ Stadium with victory at Game Two in Melbourne last year but a more desperate and aggressive Blues team caught the Maroons off guard.
With Dane Gagai's quadriceps concern a thing of the past and the stomach bug that worked its way through the camp now abated Smith said the main area of concern was Queensland's mental approach to Wednesday's clash at Suncorp Stadium.
Smith took time on day one of camp to address his team at the need to match the emotion of New South Wales – particularly in the opening exchanges – and warned them of the consequences should they be caught out again.
"Our mindset is totally different. I made a point of bringing up that performance last year at the start of this camp and making sure that we don't make that mistake twice," Smith said.
"We can't give up the opportunity that we've created for ourselves.
"It was a great performance in Sydney to get that win so we've given ourselves a good opportunity to come home and play in front of our home crowd and hopefully get a win.
"If you don't take this opportunity it ends up being 1-all and we have to go back down to Sydney to win which is a very hard thing to do."
Recent history with seven losses from their eight previous visits to Suncorp Stadium suggests the Blues are up against it, but Smith is wary of a team with more attacking thrust in Dylan Walker and Jack Bird and a win-at-all-costs attitude.
"They're willing to do anything it takes to win and that's what happened in Game Two last year," said Smith ahead of his 38th Origin appearance or Queensland.
"We just need to start better than we did in Game Two last year. New South Wales came out with a very aggressive mindset and they played with a lot of intensity and I think they caught us on the hop to be honest.
"Maybe we went out there knowing we were 1-0 up and if we didn't win that one there was still an opportunity to go back to Brisbane but this time around it's totally different.
"We spoke about this the first day we got into camp, about our mental preparation. Everyone is going to be OK physically and ready to go but our mental preparation is key for this game.
"We want to make sure we start well and hopefully make it a lot easier in the back-end of the game."
Having passed Darren Lockyer to become Origin's most prolific performer in Game One, Smith returns to a venue where he has had great success in the past and with the support of more than 50,000 Queensland fans who worships the ground he walks on.
"It's a feeling that no other place can replicate," said the 33-year-old.
"I speak to friends that go to State of Origin at Suncorp and they say that it is just an unbelievable atmosphere. They've never witnessed anything like it.
"They've been to big games in other sports but the crowd at Suncorp for a State of Origin is just something else.
"We feel the same thing as players. We're lucky because we get to run out and stand in the middle of those 52,000 people but fortunately they're all on our side."
This article first appeared on NRL.com