NSW coach Ricky Stuart has declared Paul Gallen's influence on the Blues side is just as important as anything offered by Queensland's sea of stars after his skipper produced a monumental performance in his side's 18-8 win on Wednesday night.
Gallen shifted from lock to the front-row and produced a man-of-the-match performance as the Blues kept the series alive with a courageous come-from-behind win at ANZ Stadium.
The 29-year-old became just the second Blues prop to play the full 80 minutes - joining NSW legend Glenn Lazarus' effort in 1996 - and got through a huge workload by pulling off 32 tackles and running for 234 metres.
While his selection at prop was ridiculed and considered a massive gamble, Stuart wasn't surprised by his skipper's effort and rated his display one of the best ever seen at Origin level.
"Everybody laughed at me when I picked him at front-row," the Blues boss said.
"He got man of the match and, as soon as I picked him in the front-row, I knew he would get man of the match."
"It's an amazing feat tonight, what Paul Gallen did."
"There is only one other player who has played 80 minutes of Origin football in the front-row - that was Glenn Lazarus, and he was the best front-rower ever to play the game of rugby league."
"Paul Gallen has equalled that - 80 minutes playing front-row, in that intensity, at that high speed and style of football is freakish."
"That is the level of a Slater, a Thurston, a Lockyer a Cameron Smith."
Despite his brilliant performance in the engine room, Gallen said he had no intention to make the move to the front-row a permanent one.
The Sharks skipper was also quick to play down comparisons to the Maroons superstars.
"They're freaks of the game. I believe I'm here because I just worker harder than people off the field," Gallen said.
"I haven't got the most skill. I don't have the freakish ability they've got but I work hard during the week."
"By training hard I feel I can do it on the field."
"That's where my strength lies, training hard and then I know in my head when I get out there I can push through things."
While Gallen was a standout, the Blues had a host of top performers in the three-tries-to-one victory.
Veteran fullback Anthony Minichiello was heavily involved and grabbed a try in his first Blues appearance in four years while debutant Will Hopoate also scored and looked assured with every touch.
"Right from the moment I came back into camp at Coogee I felt comfortable and the boys got on great," Minichiello said.
"There's still another game to go and hopefully I can be there for Game 3."
"I dreamt of getting back in here and winning another series but that's still a long way to go."
"This is just a win to put it back to 1-1 and hopefully we can finish it off in a few weeks."