HE produced one of the greatest moments in NSW Origin history, and Dragons great Shaun Timmins has urged the current crop of Blues to relish the big stage when they head Suncorp Stadium for next week’s decider.
A veteran of four series wins with the Blues, Timmins etched himself into Origin folklore when he booted NSW to a golden-point victory in game one 2004.
Such moments have been few and far between for NSW in a decade-long run of Queensland dominance, with the Blues repeatedly out-done in the clutch.
Future immortal Jonathan Thurston delivered another one of those late-game daggers when he landed a sideline conversion to bring Queensland back from the dead in game two and send the series back to the Maroons spiritual home.
It’s a hurdle at which NSW have fallen on numerous occasions in recent seasons, most recently being on the end of a 52-6 flogging the last time a decider was held north of the border.
There are fears among the NSW faithful that ghosts may linger but Timmins says this youthful Blues group should embrace the hate.
“Playing on their turf it’s obviously going to be tough but, I know for myself, I loved playing up there,” Timmins said.
“It’s one of the best stadiums in the world to play. The crowd’s so close, you’re getting booed, you’re getting abused, you're getting beers thrown at the bus… there’s nothing better.
“You’ve got to embrace it an enjoy it and I think some of these [NSW] guys will thrive on it.
“Most of this NSW team haven’t been part of all those previous series’ so they’ve got no real mental scars.
“They’re just going out there to win and I don’t think the past will affect these players at all.”
Coach Laurie Daley has sought to retain the same 17 players that demolished the Maroons 28-4 at the same venue in game one, though key forwards Boyd Cordner (calf) and Tyson Frizell (ribs) are both under an injury cloud.
Timmins said the pair have earned the right to be given every chance to make it onto the field.
“I’m sure they’ll get given every chance to play and I hope they do play because they’re both quality players,” Timmins said.
“Obviously Cordner’s the skipper and he’s a leader by example so I’m sure he’ll be doing everything he can to get on the field and it’s the same with Friz.
“Friz is a pretty quiet person, he’s not that outspoken, but he’s a leader on the field as well so I’m sure they’ll give them right up to game time.
“I’m sure the medical staff won’t risk them if they’re not right. Friz will make the right call to. If he thinks he’s no good he’ll be selfless enough to pull himself out.”
Should either be a late withdrawal, Timmins is adamant 18th man Jack de Belin is ready-made for the Origin arena.
“He’s been knocking on the door and if gets the call for this game he’ll handle it and do well,” Timmins said.
“He played for Country last year and got man of the match, he played again this year and was one of the best players.
“He’s been one of the best week-in week-out for the Dragons and the type of footy he plays will suit the Origin arena.
“He’s a great defender, he carries the ball well and he’s got a good pass on him so I’m sure he’d relish it.”