NSW's Trent Merrin just happy to be playing
JOE BARTON AND IAN MCCULLOUGH
While none of his teammates have won a live State of Origin match at Suncorp Stadium, bench forward Trent Merrin is simply thankful to be taking part in a decider.
The fleet-footed St George Illawarra lock, who had his greatest Origin impact in game one with a strong offensive showing off the bench, has had the misfortune of being dumped for the deciding fixtures in both 2011 and 2012.
And now the 23-year-old with just five Origin matches to his name is ready to dream big.
"For sure, this is definitely the biggest game of my career," Merrin told AAP.
"The last two years I think I was just happy to be named and to be a part of it.
"Now I want to do the best I possibly can. We've got a chance to win it."
Merrin is understandably reluctant to detail his thoughts on being punted for the all-important deciders in his first two series.
But he does admit that at the start of this year he made it his personal goal to not only regain his Blues spot, but to keep it for all three games.
"I felt unlucky to miss out on game three the past few years," he said.
"It was a personal goal there for me as well. But the big picture there is the team, and doing it for the state."
Forwards ally Greg Bird made his debut in a dead rubber at Suncorp, knowing full well nothing could be done to save the 2007 series.
But he was wide-eyed and optimistic about how their game three win that year could lay the platform to regain control of Origin after Queensland had won two straight series.
"I never thought six or seven years later we'd still be in exactly the same position," he admits.
"It's a goal that's climbed it's way to the top of my goalsheet.
"I'm really excited about the position we're in.
"Hopefully we can all get out there and perform and get that trophy back to NSW."
While no current member of the Blues playing group has won a live rubber at Suncorp Stadium, veteran back-rower Luke Lewis is someone with plenty of experience playing at the hostile Brisbane venue.
He is also one of only two surviving members of a successful Blues series, having played in all three games during NSW's 2-1 series win in 2004.
The other, back-rower Anthony Watmough, played in just the opening game of the 2-1 win the following year.
Lewis says all the knowledge and familiarity that comes with playing, and quite often losing, at Suncorp counts for very little - admitting he's in the same position as rookies Nathan Merritt and Aaron Woods when it comes to confronting the venue.
"Every time you play it's always different. It's always tough," he said.
"You learn something different every time you run out there."
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