Michael Chammas June 30, 2012
IN THE corresponding Origin game last year, Glenn Stewart earned an 11th-hour call-up to the NSW team to replace Beau Scott, who had failed to shrug off a knee injury.
Twelve months later, the roles have reversed and this time it's Scott who has been handed a shot at ending the Maroons' long-standing dominance, with Stewart succumbing to a knee injury of his own yesterday morning.
Blues coach Ricky Stuart has put his faith in a player who has been a shadow of himself this season.
Scott has struggled to recapture the form which catapulted him into representative reckoning a few years ago, unable to make the same impression at club level he did during St George Illawarra's 2½-year reign as NRL supremos. The Newcastle-bound back-rower, who has been plagued by an elbow injury since the Anzac Day clash against the Roosters, appears low on confidence and short on form, which is reflected in his statistics.
Scott is down on all key statistical areas from last season, making fewer runs, metres, tackles and tackle breaks than he did in 2011.
Stewart, who suffered a medial ligament injury against the Storm a fortnight ago, was yesterday ruled out of the State of Origin series decider after failing a fitness test.
The 28-year-old was given a final chance to prove he could overcome the knee injury in time for the match on Wednesday night, but failed to convince Blues medical staff he would be fit.
He underwent a light walk with Glenn Lazarus at the start of the session at WIN Jubilee Oval in Kogarah and was put through his paces properly once the session went behind closed doors.
But two hours later Blues officials announced he would take no part in the decider, instead confirming that Scott, who had been in camp on standby, was in NSW's run-on side.
Scott is the only right-side second-rower at Stuart's disposal, which made him the most likely candidate to replace Stewart.
He did a good job marking up on Greg Inglis last year, part of the reason he was brought into camp, but Dane Nielsen will be the man he marks, with Josh Morris, on Wednesday night.
Inglis will wear the No.1 jersey for the Maroons for the first time after Billy Slater was officially ruled out of the Queensland side yesterday morning, having failed to overcome a knee injury he suffered in Origin II at ANZ Stadium.
NSW interchange forward Ben Creagh does not view the change as a major setback for Queensland.
''Billy is the one of the best fullbacks in the world but Greg has been playing great there for the Rabbitohs and will do the same for Queensland,'' Creagh said.
''It would have been a massive call for Billy to make, but if you are not 100 per cent right in a big game with a lot at stake then it's probably the right call.
''They will still be a tough team on Wednesday night. The series is 1-1 and they are at home and the side they are putting up for us will give us a massive test.''