11 Jul 2018

Blues out to spoil Maroons' ambitions

2:37 pm on 11 July 2018

In a farewell for Billy Slater and a welcoming for Daly Cherry-Evans, NSW players are out to spoil both when they attempt a State of Origin series clean sweep.

Queensland captain Billy Slater during State of Origin game two

Queensland captain Billy Slater during State of Origin game two Photo: © Photosport Ltd 2018 www.photosport.nz

Slater will become just the second player to captain an Origin series at 35 years of age when he runs out in the final match of his Origin career on Wednesday.

And while Blues coach Brad Fittler declared Slater as the best fullback the game has seen, he urged his team to make it a memorable occasion.

"He's set the standard for a long time, changed the way fullbacks played," Fittler says.

"It's our job to make sure that he remembers the game. We want him to remember it, not as a winning game, but as one of the hardest games he ever played. That is definitely our job."

The match also marks the return of Cherry-Evans to the Origin arena, three years after his final game in Maroons colours back in 2015.

It looms as an important opportunity for the Manly captain to stake his claim as a part of the Maroons' future, however Blues captain Boyd Cordner is intent on ruining his chances.

"He's got his spot now and out to prove a point. We've got to try and nullify his options the best way we can, take some time and space off him," he said.

"If I get an opportunity to, if that's my job, the back-rower and halfback, we'll find each other."

Blues winger and Sea Eagles teammate Tom Trbojevic admitted the Maroons will be noticeably different in attack with Cherry-Evans orchestrating the attack compared to the axed Ben Hunt.

Trbojevic said Cherry-Evans had proven his ability to play first-receiver at Manly following the season-ending injury to halves partner Lachlan Croker earlier this year.

"Chez is a very quality player, and so is Ben Hunt. They're a bit different, but Chez is a ball-runner so we're going to have to focus on that," Trbojevic said.

"It doesn't change too much, the way we want to defend and the way we want to play.

"He'll be on the ball a bit more. He's been doing that for us the last few weeks (at Manly), and is very good at it. We'll have to be on our toes to defend him."