Former Maroons forward Brad Thorn has called on his State of Origin experience to fire up the Queensland Reds ahead of a do-or-die battle.

The timing of this year’s State of Origin rugby league series is perfect for a Queensland Reds side hoping to revel in the underdog status that so often inspires the Maroons.

The Reds start their Super Rugby Pacific finals campaign on Friday night with a do-or-die encounter against the heavily favoured Crusaders in Christchurch.

The quarter-final comes less than week before the beginning of the Origin series in Sydney, where NSW will almost certainly start as favourites – in the betting markets – to beat Queensland.

And with the Reds being coached by former Maroons forward Brad Thorn, Origin talk and footage has been a big part of the his team’s preparations in Christchurch.

“We’ve actually been relying a lot on (Thorn’s) State of Origin background, which has been really cool,” Reds co-captain Tate McDermott said.

“He took us back to when Queensland were underdogs in that era because that has been a theme.

“We know we’re underdogs and we’re loving that title because there’s no pressure on us. No one expects us to do anything.”

The Origin influence at the Reds also spreads to strength and conditioning coach Andrew Croll, who also works with the Maroons.

With the help of Thorn and Croll, a member of the Queensland Origin team is expected to address the Reds via video before Friday night’s match.

McDermott promised the Reds would bring the traditional Origin passion into the quarter-final.

“You’ll definitely see a bit of niggle. The boys have got licence to really, you know, I guess go out there and give it a good rattle,” he said.

But not to the point of being undisciplined, with the Reds having paid the price all season – including last week’s 28-15 round 15 loss to the Crusaders – for committing needless acts of foul play.

“Discipline is a big one for us,” said McDermott, who will share the captaincy with flanker Liam Wright on Friday night.

“Again, there were a couple of instances (last week) where we let ourselves down, so that’s mine and Liam’s job to try to balance that because at the same time you don’t want to be waiting for them to dictate everything.

“We got to make sure we bring some fight.”

Flanker Wright has been recalled to Queensland’s starting side, with fellow back-rower Fraser McReight – one of the Reds’ best all season – perhaps surprisingly relegated to the bench.

“I think it comes down to that back 40 (minutes), That’s where the games are won and lost, particularly if we go toe to toe with them in the first 40,” McDermott said.

“Liam brings in a massive amount of leadership and set piece (skill) as well, but Fraser’s presence around the ball is going to be crucial in that back 40 as well.

“I think you’ll see he’ll be injected into the game pretty quickly.”

Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami will return from a shoulder injury via the bench.

Reds: Harry Hoopert, Matt Faessler, Feao Fotuaika, Ryan Smith, Angus Blyth, Seru Uru. Liam Wright, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, Lawson Creighton, Filipo Daugunu, Hamish Stewart, Jordan Petaia, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell, Bench: Richie Asiata, Dane Zander, Sef Fa’agase, Connor Vest, Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight, Kalani Thomas, Hunter Paisami.

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