JT looking for special game in Origin III
Queensland coach Mal Meninga might have unintentionally put NSW on “JT alert” after hinting his scheming five-eighth was steeled for a special State of Origin performance against NSW on Wednesday night.
The dual Dally M winner as the game’s best player could use the emotion of North Queensland teammate Matt Scott’s recent family loss and Petero Civoniceva’s Origin farewell in front of a sellout Suncorp Stadium crowd to produce his finest game for Queensland.
Meninga certainly sounded alarm bells on game eve, saying Thurston had been personally disappointed with his performance in Sydney and wanted to play a lot better in the decider.
Thurston, who has collected two man-of-the-match awards in 2009 and 2010, has had two games to settle into his new five-eighth role outside promoted halfback Cooper Cronk since Darren Lockyer’s retirement.
“The way he (Thurston) played in game two, I thought was great but he was a little disappointed and he wants to improve on that,” said Meninga.
The Cowboys co-captain will equal former Maroon forward Gary Larson’s endurance record of 24 consecutive Origins which Meninga — who played 32 games for Queensland himself — acknowledged was an amazing feat for someone constantly targeted and battered every weekend.
“It’s a credit to his resilience and his courage,” said Meninga before Queensland’s final training run on Tuesday.
“He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever come across.
“It’s some feat to play 24 in a row at Origin level.”
Meninga admitted NSW had outmuscled Queensland at times in the first two Origins which would not be so easy to repeat with forceful back-rower Sam Thaiday and heavy-hitting bench utility Ben Te’o giving the Maroons an aggression boost for the decider.
With the Blues pack bristling with firebrand Anthony Watmough and the fearful Tony Williams operating behind its biggest front-row in years, Queensland will need to be ready to fight fire with fire.
“That’s Origin, it is aggressive and I think we have been outmuscled in games one and two particularly at times and it’s something we need to address,” admitted Meninga.
“It’s got to be a team thing. We’re not going to be stupid about it – we’ve got to be disciplined about it.
“It’s about an aggressive mindset. It’s not about bashing people.
“It’s about being aggressive mentally as well as physically.
Meninga had no idea if the decider, stacked with the best players in the world, would break open at some stage with both sides chancing their arms.
“We have to get into the contest, we have to win the grind and win field possession and we’ll be prepared to do anything we possibly can to win the footy game,” he said.
Queensland have made some tactical adjustments to accommodate Greg Inglis who’ll play his 18th Origin – but first at fullback in place of injured superstar Billy Slater.
Meninga, though, wasn’t letting those tactics out of the bag.
“We’ve got heaps of different plays with Greg at the back but I can’t tell you because we’ve got to put it out there tomorrow night,” he said.
“If we did tell you now, we’d have to kill you.”© AAP 2013