Jonathan Thurston no Superman, claim Origin Blues
NSW are being reminded Johnathan Thurston isn’t Superman, even when he pulls on a maroon State of Origin jersey.
The Blues hierarchy are making a point of emphasising that Queensland’s five-series heroes, including Thurston, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, are the same mortals who pull on NRL club jerseys each weekend.
While the revamped NSW squad have focussed most of their preparation for Wednesday’s State of Origin series opener on their own game, some of their analysis has also touched on the inability of the likes of Thurston to jump tall buildings in a single bound.
“Obviously you talk about their keys, your Thurstons and your Smiths and your Slaters, but it’s nothing different to what these guys get every week at their clubs,” Blues assistant coach Trent Barrett said.
“They play against Thurstons and Smiths and they have for years.
“You ram home some important messages about those guys but if we get an even share of possession, we compete in all the little things … the scoreboard will look after itself.”
Working out how to deal with the Maroons superstars, but not building them up into something they aren’t, has been a balancing act for Blues coach Ricky Stuart.
“We don’t want our players going out there worrying about their individuals,” Barrett said.
“We’ll be worrying about every play – that play the ball, that tackle – and just do it for 80 minutes.”
Meanwhile, Blues backrower Beau Scott says his days of needing to be St George Illawarra team-mate Jamie Soward’s bodyguard are over, even as the five-eighth prepares to make his Origin debut at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
NSW will take the all-Dragons right side defensive combination of Scott, Mark Gasnier and Jamie Soward into the match.
“It’s already been about a year now since I’ve been playing directly next to him,” Scott told reporters on Sunday.
“He’s done a lot to improve himself over the last year, particularly in the off-season, so he can look after himself now.”
And prop Jason King says he’s unsure whether Stuart’s stated aim that no NSW player will want to retire from representative football could change the thinking of his Manly co-captain Jamie Lyon.
Stuart is hoping the environment he creates means no potential Blues player would consider giving up the jersey in future years.
“All I can say, from own point of view, is it’s been a fantastic camp,” said King.
“We’ve had a great week down there at Coogee, had some really good bonding sessions, come together really well, trained really hard.
“It’s been really positive, a real positive atmosphere.
“It’s something I’ve really cherished being a part of.”© AAP 2013
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