Hard-working Storm prop Christian Welch is set to help the Maroons bridge a gap in the intensity of the respective Origin packs when they run out on to ANZ Stadium for the June 10 decider.
Telstra Tracker data showed the Blues held a noticeable edge in intensity through the forwards in their big Holden State of Origin II win.
While the intensity reading – each player's metres per minute recorded during active play time – does not automatically correlate to on-field success, it does provide an indicator of how hard players can and do work, particularly off the ball.
The Blues forwards were far too good for the Maroons in this department in Origin II but the gap should narrow with Welch's inclusion.
Welch averages 87 metres per minute in the NRL in 2019 – easily the most of the 10 middle forwards involved in Origin III.
The next four best are all Blues, with the next-best Maroon Josh Papalii coming in a fraction behind David Klemmer.
Interestingly, Welch registers the lowest numbers of the 10 in terms of number of sprints per game and top speed so far recorded in 2019 (neither of which is an area of focus for props), which adds further weight to the impression that he is moving constantly and maintaining a high workrate consistently.
Halves and fullbacks typically maintain the highest intensity readings and nine of the top 12 season intensity figures among the 34 Origin III squad members all play in those spots for their clubs. The other three are busy Blues edge forwards Tyson Frizell (89) and Boyd Cordner (88) with Welch the ninth best of all players.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 3 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
His Storm teammate Dale Finucane (85) is the second-best middle forward and Welch's ability, along with former Storm prop Tim Glasby, to come off the Maroons bench and tighten up the middle of the park with some hard-working defence will be crucial to Queensland's hopes of an upset series win.
While the Blues still hold a marginal advantage in intensity across the 17-man squads, it has narrowed for game three to just over one metre per minute on average, 83.3 to 82.2.