Queensland State of Origin great Sam Thaiday fears Josh Papalii’s Maroons career could be over if he doesn’t fire in the decider on Wednesday night, as pressure mounts on the veteran Maroons prop amid a lean run.
Papalii has played 22 games in an admirable Queensland career that began in 2013, but the Raiders inspiration struggled in the first two matches of this year’s series.
The 30-year-old managed just 22 minutes, 35 metres and 20 tackles in the opener, before registering only 26 minutes, 37 metres and 17 tackles in game two.
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No Queenslander played fewer minutes in game one and only Jai Arrow got through less in the second encounter.
Thaiday cast his mind back to the careers of champion Queensland front-rowers Steve Price, Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva as he mulled over Papalii’s waning form ahead of the Brisbane finale.
“It almost reminds of when I was first coming into State of Origin. We had big Pricey in there, we had Shane Webcke, we had Petero Civoniceva, and they were told that this would be their last Origin series back in ’06 if they don’t pull their finger out and really stand up,” Thaiday said on Wide World of Sports’ QLDER.
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“This might be a moment for big Papa to just really stand up for Queensland and (quieten) all those critics and shush them up. It’s a great opportunity for him to do that, so I hope he does.
“He has played limited minutes. I think he has minutes in him.
“I’d like to see him really push himself out there.”
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Papalii started in the front row with Tino Fa’asuamaleaui in game one, before lining up at prop alongside Lindsay Collins in the second clash.
He’s been named to again start in the front row with Collins as the Maroons aim to bounce back from a 44-12 thumping.
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Maroons Origin legend Darren Lockyer, now a Queensland selector, is expecting Papalii to play more minutes in the decider.
“The coach pretty much says to him, ‘Just go out there and rip and tear for as long as you can and when I see that you’re starting to struggle with the speed of the game I’ll take you off’,” Lockyer said.
“But I think you might see a bit more of Papalii this game.”
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