Paul Gallen is set to play in the State of Origin decider on Wednesday, but his villain status has an unlikely challenger - Cameron Smith.
Wednesday's State of Origin decider has had the usual pre-match build-up play out in the media, but rarely has the focus been targeted on Queensland captain Cameron Smith.
An interview aired on Australian television with Alex McKinnon, the rugby league player who suffered a serious spinal injury after getting tackled in an NRL match, has ruffled feathers in the Maroons camp, with the former Newcastle Knights man slamming Smith.
Melbourne Storm skipper Smith argued with the referee regarding the decision to award a penalty following the tackle that injured McKinnon, and the Knights youngster took exception to seeing the footage for the first time on Channel 9 program 60 Minutes.
The programme was aired on Sunday night, less than three days before Origin III, forcing the likes of the Storm and Maroons forward Corey Parker to leap to Smith's defence - admitting the criticism had affected him.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga tried his best to put the issue to the side on Tuesday, with a clutch Origin fixture on his mind in front of the Maroons faithful in Brisbane.
"I have a private opinion but I don't want to air that publicly," Meninga told a news conference.
"But what everyone has been saying, I concur with - Cameron is a decent human being.
"He is a respected member of the rugby league fraternity and deserves some respect.
"But you can't win by making any sort of comments."
Meninga refuted the suggestion it had affected his side, as they looked to earn back the Origin trophy after their 2014 series loss marked their first since 2005.
"It hasn't impacted on the way we prepared," he said.
"No one's to know the situation but we've got to make sure we put that behind us and move forward.
"We've come to Brisbane as a group, as a team, prepared to do whatever it takes to be successful."
Smith will equal Darren Lockyer's record for games for the Maroons - 36 - while Justin Hodges will play his final Origin, earning high praise from Meninga.
"He is a great ambassador but also one of the best centres who has played the game," Meninga said of the Brisbane Broncos man.
The notable difference in the Maroons' line-up is the absence of full-back Billy Slater, whose season ended after he decided to undergo shoulder surgery following Origin II - although Queensland welcome back Cooper Cronk.
In the New South Wales camp, there is a question mark over Robbie Farah (hand), but the Blues have all the momentum after a 26-18 win in Melbourne in June.
Blues captain Paul Gallen played in that win despite his obvious discomfort with a rib injury, and coach Laurie Daley is expecting the Cronulla Sharks forward to run out on Wednesday night.
In an ominous sign for the Maroons defence, Blues giant David Klemmer - playing in his maiden Origin series - knocked out a trainer in an opposed training session on Sunday.