Queensland coach Mal Meninga calls for pack power
Queensland coach Mal Meninga has demanded his forwards step up for today’s crunch State of Origin decider after admitting they were outmuscled by New South Wales in the first two games.
The Maroons haven’t lost a series since Meninga took charge in 2006 but he faces the biggest test of his reign in Brisbane against a fired up Blues outfit which appears to have closed the gap.
Headlining the NSW revival is a young but aggressive forward pack with no regard for Queensland’s stellar reputation. However having added noted enforcer Sam Thaiday (pictured left) and heavy-hitting bench player Ben Te’o to his side, Meninga is hoping he’s done enough to kick his big men into gear.
“That’s Origin, it is aggressive and I think we have been outmuscled in games one and two at times and it’s something we need to address,” Meninga admitted.
“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.” After six years starved of success the Blues are desperate to finally to the shield back south.
But despite their unprecedented dominance, the Queensland boss insists his side are just as hungry to pile on more misery, saying: “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.”
Meanwhile, Meninga believes under-fire stand-off Johnathan Thurston is set to steer the Maroons to glory after finally coming to grips with his move from halfback.
Thurston took the No.6 jersey from legend Darren Lockyer, who retired last year, but has struggled with the adjustment so far this series. However, Meninga said: “JT (Thurston) is fine, he’s a little disappointed the way he played in game two but he wants to improve on that this time.”
NO BRISBANE FEARS FOR BLUES
New South Wales boss Ricky Stuart has no doubt his side can break their six-year drought on enemy soil. The Blues were in the same situation 12 months ago only for the match to be over by half-time as the Maroons roared home on the back of a raucous Suncorp Stadium crowd. But Stuart said: “We’re not intimidated any more. We won’t be intimidated by the crowd. We’ve timed this preparation to the minute. We’ll get there and be ready to play.”