UNSUNG HERO: Gavin Cooper helped give Johnathan Thurston a fitting send off from Origin.
UNSUNG HERO: Gavin Cooper helped give Johnathan Thurston a fitting send off from Origin. Mark Kolbe

Gavin's gift to his mate JT

Rugby League: Although the likes of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Valentine Holmes and Cameron Munster received the plaudits for Queensland's game three victory on Wednesday night, one player flew under the radar despite a statistically dominant display.

Murgon's Gavin Cooper - a Cowboys teammate of Thurston - was drafted into the Maroons camp following the awful game one showing, and went about systematically altering Queensland's defence.

After the Blues' 28-4 demolition at Suncorp Stadium in game one, and with a host of Maroons stars unavailable for game three, the visitors entered heavy favourites to lift their first trophy since 2014.

Instead, showing the grit and determination that led them to the previous 10 of 11 Origin titles, the Maroons dominated from start to finish in front of a record Suncorp Stadium crowd to send Queensland's favourite son Johnathan Thurston out in style.

In the 28-4 hammering of which Cooper was not a part, the Maroons missed a staggering 51 tackles.

In game two in Sydney - an 18-16 win to the Maroons - they missed 36. On Wednesday night, the side combined to register just eight to the Blues' 25 missed tackles.

On his own, Cooper attempted 84 tackles and stuck 82 of them over the two games. The 31 year-old went for a near-perfect 97.6 per cent success rate at the game's highest level.

While much has been written of the influence each of Queensland's eight Origin debutantes provided over the three games, it was the addition of a veteran presence in Cooper that may well have been coach Kevin Walters' most important selection call.

When NSW coach Laurie Daley looks back on where it was the Blues lost their way, he will note the middling performances of Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita paled in comparison to Cooper's.