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Paulo gets nod as Maroons consider late switch, Papalii fired up, Titans sack Dymock

Junior Paulo will start at prop for the first time this series in Wednesday night’s State of Origin finale at Suncorp Stadium.

Paulo has won the race to partner Jake Trbojevic in the front row ahead of debutant Jacob Saifiti after Cowboys prop Jordan McLean was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The Parramatta forward was named to start game one but ended up coming off the bench and was also used from the interchange in the Origin II victory in Perth.

Queensland have finalised their line-up with Broncos winger Corey Oates replacing Murray Taulagi and Tom Dearden to make his debut at five-eighth for Cameron Munster after the duo were sidelined with bouts of COVID-19.

Munster has a proven track record, putting in man-of-the-match displays in 2017 and 2020 the last two times the shield has been up for grabs in game three of a series at Queensland’s home ground.

It remains unclear whether Dearden will start in the No.6 jersey or if Ben Hunt will move from the bench to a starting role.

Blues five-eighth Jarome Luai says whoever is his opposite number on the park makes no difference to his or his teammate’s preparations.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Junior Paulo of the Blues score a try before it was disallowed during game one of the 2022 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on June 08, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Junior Paulo scores but it was no try as Pat Carrigan is impeded by Cam Murray in Origin I. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

“Nothing has changed for us. Whoever chucks on that six jersey Wednesday night is going to be a threat regardless,” Luai told AAP.

“They have a lot of good halves and a guy like Tommy Dearden … he’s been playing some really good footy this year. His confidence will be right up there. His team have been top two, top three all year so we’ll be heads on going about our work.”

Luai is yet to play in a game three decider in his brief Origin career but was part of the Blues team which thumped Queensland 26-0 at Suncorp Stadium in game two last year to win the series.

He is also one of eight players in the Blues’ team which were part of Penrith’s NRL grand final win at the venue last year.

The 25-year-old says the past is the past however as NSW look to win a game three decider in Brisbane for just the third time in Origin history.

“You’ve got to start again,” he said. “At the end of the day, none of that matters. (We’re) coming to do a job. It’s a big occasion. For us boys here, it’s a massive opportunity for us just looking at the history of games that haven’t been won there.”

The Blues held their final training session at their Kingscliff camp on Monday morning, before heading to Brisbane ahead of Tuesday’s captain’s run at Suncorp Stadium.

Tom Dearden of the Cowboys runs the ball

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Papa ready to silence Origin critics

Queensland “have a plan” for Josh Papalii to silence the doubters that they say will ensure he is back to his best for the State of Origin decider.

The 22-game Origin veteran has been quiet across the series, playing about 15 minutes before returning for the final five in both games.

Bench forward Pat Carrigan has been one of the Maroons’ stars in a longer stretch either side of halftime.

Carrigan was the only Queensland big man to notch more than 100m during the 44-12 loss in Perth, where the Blues’ forwards dominated.

There is chatter the pair could swap roles in Wednesday’s game three at Suncorp Stadium as the Maroons look to reignite the leader of the pack.

“With Paps, we’ve got a plan with what he’s going to do,” centre Valentine Holmes said. “I won’t say (what it is), but I’m expecting him to play well.”

Captain Daly Cherry-Evans acknowledged the external pressure that had built on Papalii this series, but waved away any concerns with a wry smile.

“There has been a bit of external noise on where he’s at and what people think is a good game for Josh Papalii,” the halfback said. “That challenge has been laid to him and whenever it has, he’s responded.”

“We’re excited about where Paps’ mentality is this week … when people start to talk about you, the only way you’ve got to respond is your football. 

“I can’t wait to run out there with Paps, I know he’s going to be right up for it.”

Josh Papalii. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Titans tell Dymock to pack his bags

Gold Coast have sacked assistant coach Jim Dymock, the former Canterbury and Parramatta player the first casualty of the struggling NRL club’s mid-season review.

Dymock was hired in 2019 after the appointment of head coach Justin Holbrook and charged with stiffening up the Titans’ defence.

In a brief statement issued on Monday, the Titans confirmed Dymock’s time with the club was over as pressure continues to mount on Holbrook during a disastrous 2022 campaign.

After sneaking into last year’s finals, Gold Coast sit second-last on the NRL ladder this season, only off the bottom by virtue of their marginally better percentage than Wests Tigers.

The Titans have won just three matches all season and were thumped 38-12 by Newcastle in their most recent fixture, leaving them with one win from their past 12 matches.

Dymock is the second member of Holbrook’s backroom staff to get the axe this season with high performance coach Klint Hoare sacked last month before it was revealed the board would undergo a review of the club’s poor on-field displays.

The Titans, who had a bye last weekend, face in-form Brisbane in a Queensland derby this Saturday.

A defeat against the fifth-placed Broncos at CBUS Super Stadium would only intensify the spotlight on Holbrook, who is confident he has the support of owners Darryl Kelly and Rebecca Frizelle.

“Collectively as a club, we can see where things have gone wrong and what needs to be done to fix it,” Holbrook said after the loss to Knights.

“I am working harder than ever and I believe I am the man to get us back up there.”

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