Bench the key to Blues’ series ambitions

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    NSW captain Boyd Cordner has backed his bench to replicate a State of Origin I performance that former Blues enforcer Steve Roach labelled as one of the best ever.

    The Blues’ four bench players – David Klemmer, Wade Graham, Jake Trbojevic and Jack Bird – ran an extra 82 metres than their Queensland counterparts in NSW 28-4 series-opening win at Suncorp Stadium last month.

    It ensured NSW lost no momentum either side of halftime, as they crossed for four of their five tries between the 40th and 60th minutes.

    “They just didn’t lose tempo when blokes like Wade Graham and all those guys go on,” Roach said.

    “It was a great performance, one of the best performances ever.

    “But the big challenge is to do it more than one time.”

    The Blues bench is likely to face a much sterner test on Wednesday night however.

    Their performance also cost Queensland counterparts Sam Thaiday, Aidan Guerra and Jacob Lillyman their spots in the Maroons team, they were just some of the seven players axed by coach Kevin Walters.

    It’s left Michael Morgan as the only player to remain from the Maroons’ Game I bench, while Josh Papalii has also dropped onto the interchange after starting in the back row at Suncorp Stadium.

    The inclusions of Coen Hess and Tim Glasby could also provide a threat, given their combination with Queensland’s spine from their NRL clubs of North Queensland and Melbourne.

    The Maroons new bench quartet have now scored 11 more tries and made double the amount of linebreaks their NSW opponents have in NRL matches this year.

    Roach said the Blues longevity off the bench – highlighted by the fact Klemmer is the only member not to average at least 75 minutes per match at NRL level this year – should help them reproduce the same form from Game I.

    “A lot of the blokes play for the 80 minutes,” he said.

    “It means that they and everyone else can go out there and try and gas themselves.”

    Cordner agreed with Roach’s assessment.

    “Most of (the NSW bench) are normally starting players for their team anyway,” he said.

    “They are quality players and they’ll now how to handle any situation that they’re put in.”

    HOW THE BENCHES COMPARE AT NRL LEVEL IN 2017

    Games – NSW: 49, Queensland: 51

    Tries – NSW: 8, Queensland: 19

    Average metres – NSW: 482, Queensland: 382

    Tackle busts – NSW: 103, Queensland: 124

    Try assists – NSW: 10, Queensland: 12

    Line breaks – NSW: 13, Queensland: 26

    Offloads – NSW: 43, Queensland: 36

    Average tackles – NSW: 92.1, Queensland: 79.2

    * Stats: Fox Sports Stats

    © AAP 2017

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