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Maroons coach Wayne Bennett.

Wayne Bennett’s Maroons have embraced the "great legacy" of Arthur Beetson as they aim to repeat the feats of the 1980 side with an upset win over NSW in the State of Origin decider on Wednesday night.

Four decades ago a 35-year-old Beetson led a young team bristling with talent to a 20-10 win over NSW at Lang Park to secure the future of the Origin concept.

Beetson was inspirational on that July night and Bennett said the current squad had a chance to carry on his tradition of defying the odds.

"For me, it was just the fact that he made himself available when he was well past the end of his career," Bennett said of Beetson.

"He was playing reserve grade for Parramatta at the time and you could see physically that he wasn’t in great shape ... but he put himself out there with nothing to gain except criticism.

"He led those young men who went on to become great players at Origin level…Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga and a whole host of them.

"Arthur was the key to it. He was a legend and 40 years on we have a great legacy from what he gave us."

Bennett will blood four more debutants on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium with Corey Allan (fullback), Brenko Lee (centre), Edrick Lee (wing) and Harry Grant (bench) all set to play.

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In 1980, Colin Scott was pulled out of Easts Tigers reserve grade to play fullback for the Maroons. He went on to be a mainstay for the majority of the next decade.

Beetson came up to him before the game and said "how are you going Scotty?", and the fullback was so inspired by his Indigenous teammate that he rang his mum from a nearby phone box after having a blinder of a match just to tell her that the future Immortal knew his name.

Allan, 22, will wear the Maroons No.1 jersey on Wednesday night with just 29 NRL games on his resume. 

"It's obviously a big test, but he answered all that with us in the last two years at Souths," Bennett said.

"He was on the wing and handled it well, then he came into fullback when Latrell [Mitchell] got injured and he did a good job there. He has got his confidence and he is as good an option as we have got with all the injuries. I am confident in him."

Grant, also 22, has the key utility role off the bench and Bennett will be keen to use his spark and playmaking skills when the time is right.

"Harry has shown, like Corey, [that] he can match it at club level so I am sure he will match it out here tomorrow night. He has that type of breeding in him, he is a tearaway guy, he tries hard, I like the qualities I see in him," Bennett said.

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"I plan to use him in a strategic way if I can, but it depends on how the game is going and where it is going and when you put them on and when you don't. That will all unfold in front of us.

"Jake [Friend] has done a great job for us, so he will come on after Jake has done a lot of work. There will be a lot of opportunities for him and I'm sure he will take the best of those.

"He has the ability to do that, but I don't want to undervalue what Jake has done the last two games."

Maroons v Blues - Origin III

Bennett also defended the Maroons' handling of Friend in the series to date after a dig at Queensland from NSW.

A NSW Blues source told Nine Newspapers that with "the focus on HIA management after the Boyd Cordner incident, plus the focus on player welfare, it beggars belief why Jake Friend's two incidents did not warrant him coming from the field for an assessment".

"Jake didn't get knocked out, is that clear. I don't care what NSW think," Bennett said in response.

"The doctor is not happy about it. His integrity has been questioned here. Jake never had a head knock at any stage of the game, he had a shoulder injury from the week before and he hurt it again in the game. It was of no relevance to his head whatsoever."

Meanwhile, Bennett said he had placed no shackles on lock Tino Fa'asuamaleaui in the wake of the 2020 premiership being sin-binned after a fiery confrontation with Payne Haas in game two.

"I haven't said much to him, he is a guy you don't have to talk a lot to because he is pretty well-motivated," Bennett said.

"He is an easy to coach guy, he wants to do his best for you. He is 20 years of age and we have a decade of him. It will be good, hey? He will only get better.

"He won't be intimidated by anybody so he will get out there and let's see what happens tomorrow night."


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Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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