Blues wary of Maroons Origin ambush
Once ambushed, twice prepared. NSW are vowing they won’t be done over a second time at a jam-packed Suncorp Stadium in another emotional State of Origin decider.
The Blues were like deers in the headlights in last year’s pivotal series finale – Queensland’s desperation to send Darren Lockyer out a winner electrifying the already-frenzied atmosphere of the high-stakes encounter.
Down 24-0 barely half an hour into the contest, NSW were as good as gone.
This year, it’s Petero Civoniceva’s turn to farewell the Maroons jumper – but this time, the Blues say they are ready for what’s coming.
“They had a lot to play for, it was a packed house, it was Locky’s farewell – it was a big occasion and not many of the boys had been under that sort of pressure,” NSW back-rower Anthony Watmough said.
“It was a big occasion and something we thought we were ready for but we weren’t.
“We know what to expect now.
“We can go up there with all that hatred against us and try and use it to our advantage.”
Fellow back-rower Greg Bird added: “If you’re not up to it, they’re going to blow you off the paddock.
“That’s what they did to us.
“We weren’t ready and, although we felt our preparation was sound, something was found lacking.
“I’m sure Ricky (coach Ricky Stuart) will identify that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“Otherwise, like game three last year, you can be beaten after 20 minutes of football and playing catch-up with no real chances.”
Playing catch-up against the Maroons in Brisbane is fraught with danger.
The Blues have already shown this series how not playing from behind can affect their play.
Despite scoring first in game one, a quick double to the Maroons before the break had them on the back foot and, no matter their dominance during the second period, they were unable to nab the breakthrough try.
In game two, the Maroons never opened up a significant lead, and the Blues were able to rely on their defence to carry them to victory.
“Repeat set after repeat set, you do build a lot of self confidence in your defence and belief,” Bird said.
“I think that showed in the way we finished that game.”
If that effort created the belief, then last year’s disappointment might provide the motivation.
“We were in exactly the same position now as we were (last year) and we let it slip and blew it completely,” Bird said.
“We worked hard for six weeks of prep and to no avail.
“It cut pretty deep, but hopefully that experience on the field and the experience in the sheds after the game … comes out in our players in a positive reaction.”© AAP 2013
The Roar is giving you the chance to win 1 of 19 prize packs to Australian Open 2014! Each lucky winner will receive four evening tickets to Rod Laver Arena, plus access to 3 hours in the Heineken VIP Bar. Enter here.
The Roar needs an editor! Tristan is off to tackle a new role with us over on Techly.com.au, which means we're looking for someone to fill his boots. Love sport, know digital publishing (yes, that does mean being a bit of computer guru) and keen to work with the team in Newcastle? If you're a proven superstar, or someone on the rise with a record to back it up, we want to hear from you. Apply now!
We're also looking for freelance writers who know tech, gadgets, games and trends inside and out to join us on this new adventure. Get in touch if you've got the goods.