Paul Gallen backs Michael Maguire's brutal State of Origin call ahead of Game 3

The former Blues captain has backed Michael Maguire's big call for Origin Game 3.

Blues great Paul Gallen has backed Michael Maguire's big call to drop Manly back rower Haumole Olakau'atu for barnstorming prop Mitch Barnett after a quiet Game 2 performance. Many Blues fans were expecting a relatively unchanged side for Origin Game 3 with the decider taking place in Brisbane.

Unfortunately for the Blues, Latrell Mitchell was ruled out for Game 3 and it prompted a change with Maguire bringing in Bradman Best. However, one of the big surprises was the snub of impact player Olakau'atu.

Former Blues captain Paul Gallen (pictured right) has backed Michael Maguire's call to drop back rower Haumole Olakau'atu (pictured left) Mitch Barnett for Origin Game 3. (Getty Images)
Former Blues captain Paul Gallen (pictured right) has backed Michael Maguire's call to drop back rower Haumole Olakau'atu (pictured left) Mitch Barnett for Origin Game 3. (Getty Images)

The Manly back rower has been in superb form for his club this year, which prompted his selection for the Blues. Coming off the bench, Olakau'atu was expected to be a serious threat on the edge against a tired Maroons outfit.

Unfortunately, Olakau'atu was rather quiet in both performances having only played 23 minutes and 18 minutes respectively. Olakau'atu ran for 83 metres off the bench in Game 1, but was unable to replicate his form and only managed 19 metres with six tackles in Game 2.

And after Barnett's performance for the Warriors on Saturday, Maguire has opted to include the prop on the bench. Barnett can play either prop or second row and was unreal against the Bulldogs having run for 226 metres and made 56 tackles in one of the best forward displays of the year.

While Olakau'atu certainly hadn't done anything wrong in the Blues jersey, Barnett has made himself known for the Warriors. And Gallen has backed Maguire's decision to drop Olakau'atu for Barnett having said he was too quiet in Game 2 when the Blues needed a win.

"I actually asked someone after game two if Olakau'atu had even been on the field, because I didn't notice him. It turns out he did come on, but only made two runs," Gallen wrote for the Wide World of Sports.

Haumole Olakau'atu on the bench.
Michael Maguire opted to drop Haumole Olakau'atu (pictured left) for State of Origin Game 3.

"And at club level he missed a pretty crucial tackle on Reuben Cotter on Saturday - luckily Manly beat the Cowboys in extra time, but it was a bad moment for such a quality player. Olakau'atu is a damaging player at his best but he just hasn't been at that level recently."

Gallen said Barnett had developed across the last few years into a smart footy player and said the Warriors front rower had done everything possible in making sure Maguire noticed him on the field. Gallen said Barnett's ability to play through the middle will give the Blues even more options in the decider in Brisbane.

The Blues' aggressive approach in Game 1 and 2 has come under scrutiny from across the border. While plenty of jabs have been thrown towards NSW throughout the series the Blues coach said he made no apologies for his side's aggressive approach.

He even suggested the Maroons can expect more of the same in the series decider. “What was nice to see was that the boys were actually sticking up for each other in the way that we wanted to play," he added.

“There’s a fine line and that’s the stuff that we talked about, but I think the way that the players have shown they want to play is the style that NSW want to go about this.” Maguire refused to take another swipe at Slater's decision to scrap a full squad media opportunity that had been planned for Monday - something NSW have been slammed for doing in the past.