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Origin decider a milestone match in more ways than one

With four players set to notch their 10th State of Origin appearance in Thursday's series decider, experience is set to be a key factor in the outcome of the historic Game Three match.

Four stalwarts of the women’s game, Sky Blues co-captains Kezie Apps and Isabelle Kelly join Maroons veterans Ali Brigginshaw and Tazmin Rapana in the milestone match, having all not missed a contest since the inception of the Women's State of Origin in 2018.

With the series seeing just five debutants blooded across the two teams, the rival coaches have both opted for loyalty and experience with the Sky Blues naming an unchanged 17 in all three matches and Queensland only forced into changes through injury.

Apps said it has been an honour to experience the growth of the series since her debut, with their set to be another sell-out crowd in Townsville after attendance records were broken in Game One and Two.

“I didn’t expect to even play one game for NSW, let alone being here for 11 years, so it’s been a very long journey,” Apps said.

“Every year in the women’s game, something new has happened and the growth of it has been amazing.

“For us to be there through it all and witness the three-game series is definitely a special moment.”

Inside Camp: Jess Sergis

Meanwhile, Kelly said having worked towards a decider over the past six years and ten matches, the two captains are desperate to lead their side to victory in the first ever three-game series.

“We kind of forget how long we’ve been in this jersey and this one is really special because it is the first decider as well and we want to put our best foot forward as captains of our team,” the Sky Blues centre said.

“I am really honoured I get to lead alongside Kez and for it being our 10th game, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Maroons coach Tahnee Norris confirmed before the team’s captain’s run that Chelsea Lenarduzzi will return to the Origin arena off the bench for the injured Destiny Brill and experience being the major factor for the Broncos forward's recall.

Forward Sophie Holyman who returns to the bench after being a late omission for the win in Newcastle said seeing her Burleigh Bears teammate Lenarduzzi called into the squad was a boost for the team.

“I love Duzzi; I played the season with her at Bears, she plays a massive role with me as a prop,” Holyman said in Townsville.

“I did my first very first NRLW debut season with her at the Broncos and I'm really excited for her and really excited to see what she can bring out to the table as well.

“She's an unreal player, she's got so much experience and I love playing with her.”

Inside Camp: Tahnee Norris

Conditions for the Townsville are expected to be dewy for the game that kicks off 7.45pm but both teams said they are ready to go rain, hail or shine.

“Nothing can beat last game in Newcastle, that was something that will go down in one of the toughest conditions I've ever been a part of,” Maroons captain Ali Brigginshaw said.

“It was freezing, it was pouring, it had everything, so I don't think Townsville can beat that unless we get a cyclone. And touch wood there is no cyclone!”

For Apps, the sentiment was the same.

“(We will play) anywhere, anytime, any weather. We have trained for it all, so it doesn’t matter!”

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