Everything is still to play for in Game 3 of the 2017 State of Origin series, with the New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons tied on one win apiece entering the deciding fixture.
The two teams will come back to Brisbane, Australia, on Wednesday, and the Blues make their return to Suncorp Stadium—the scene of their record 28-4 win in Game 1—hoping to replicate their previous form on enemy soil.
It's little coincidence Queensland fought back to parity in the series after witnessing the return of 12-year Origin veteran Johnathan Thurston, who struck a 78th-minute conversion to seal a slim 18-16 win for the Maroons.
However, the five-eighth has been denied playing a role in Game 3, in what would have been his last representative match before the North Queensland Cowboys icon heads for retirement, due to a shoulder injury.
Read on for a preview of Wednesday's decider in one of rugby's fiercest rivalries, complete with viewing information, key match details and discussion of which star players to keep an eye on.
Date: Wednesday, July 12
Time: 11 a.m. BST/8 p.m. AEST/6 a.m. ET
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
In what was to be his last-ever outing in a State of Origin series, Thurston will be a sore miss against longtime rivals New South Wales, a foe he's defeated in 10 of the 12 series in which he's competed prior to 2017.
The 34-year-old missed Game 1 of this year's three-parter due to a shoulder injury before playing a match-winning role in the return at Sydney's ANZ Stadium, kicking in the dying minutes to seal a two-point victory.
It was a script befitting a player of Thurston's grand status in the sport, and the National Rugby League paid tribute to one of league's greatest patrons in the build-up to this year's decider:
Only Cameron Smith (41) has made more State of Origin appearances than Thurston (37), although the latter still holds the competition's all-time record for points scored on 238.
It's easy to ascertain the X-factor Thurston would have brought to Queensland given his status as a game-changer, and the manner in which he spoke about his Game 1 absence gives a sense of what his Game 3 absence means to the player, per Fox Sports:
"I was up in the box with the coaching staff for game one. It is quite a view from there. You can see everything unfolding.
"It was difficult to watch and not be part of the game but it does give you an appreciation of what goes on, and dissecting a game plan and executing it."
As fate would have it, Brisbane Broncos starlet Anthony Milford, the man who replaced Thurston in Game 1, has since needed shoulder surgery, meaning Melbourne Storm's Cameron Munster will start on Wednesday.
It's a pressure cauldron to be making one's State of Origin debut in, and the Blues may well target him just to the fringes of the breakdown as they seek to exploit any weakness they can get their hands on.
But NSW have some aces of their own, one of whom is prop Andrew Fifita, who provided a spearhead presence in Game 1 and has been backed to do so again by team-mate Aaron Woods, per the team's official Twitter account:
Blues captain Boyd Cordner faces a mighty task in lifting his men to victory in Brisbane when momentum is running in favour of the Maroons following their second-half comeback in Sydney last month. That being said, the loss of Thurston since then is a hammer blow to Queensland in kind.
A failure to score any points in the second period during that defeat suggested complacency may be a concern for New South Wales, who will hope to have any such concerns out of their system when they travel back behind enemy lines.