Former True Blues enforcer Steve Simpson has urged the VB Blues to embrace the hostile Suncorp Stadium crowd as much as possible – and use it to their advantage – in tonight’s Origin decider.
Having represented NSW on 13 occasions and played six games north of the border, Simpson knows exactly what the players will experience running out into enemy territory but says the atmosphere will drive them to play their best football.
“You’re obviously quite nervous but to be quite honest once the game gets started it’s just a great atmosphere to play in and I don’t think there is a better atmosphere,” Simpson tells nswrl.com.au.
“No matter if you’re from New South Wales or Queensland you get a kick out of it and you just can’t describe it.
“It’s a great place to play footy and I think it’s a great place to play your best footy so hopefully the boys can get the job done.”
Simpson admits he’s been frustrated New South Wales has enjoyed little success with just one series victory since 2006, but slams the suggestion Queensland has more passion than the Blues, declaring the pain endured over the past decade has ignited the fire within the players and fans across the state.
“I think it’s a load of crap to be honest – NSW are just as passionate” he says.
“Queensland have had a great side for a long time and it’s frustrating as a NSW supporter now and it’s frustrating for the players.
“They’ve had a great team and there’s no doubt about that but now we have just as much passion, if not more I think.”
With an Origin career spanning 2002-2008, Simpson has learned the pain of tough defeats and series losses but has also relished the taste of victory, such as the Blues’ series triumph in 2005 at Suncorp Stadium.
“The series itself we were pretty unlucky - we worked pretty hard [in Origin I] and were unlucky to lose the game in golden point but then obviously had a good win in Game Two with Joey (Andrew Johns) coming back,” he says.
“It’s a bit of a blur, but in that first 15 minutes [of Origin III] Queensland had a whole lot of ball and couldn’t score and I think after that they lost some confidence and we gained a heap so it was great.”
The 215-game veteran says it’s important for the 2017 Blues to focus on the job at hand – and learn from their past efforts, as his team did more than a decade ago.
“I think you have to worry about the process and not so much the result,” he says.
“It’s one of those things that you need to concentrate on each play as it comes. I think in that second game NSW lost it rather than Queensland won it.”
Simpson strongly believes history will repeat itself and claims the Blues have been the best side throughout the 2017 series and have what it takes to deliver in one to the biggest games in Origin history.
“I hope it’s tight - I hope NSW win at the death, I think that will be a great way to finish,” he says.
“I think they can win, I really do. Obviously they have to play their best game and I think if they play to their best they’ll be too good for the Queenslanders.”