McQueen looks sharp following axing
IF Chris McQueen ever achieves his dream of captaining South Sydney, he might look back to the time he was dropped to the NSW Cup this year as the catalyst.
The winger was axed from the Rabbitohs line-up for five rounds as he plied his trade for the North Sydney Bears.
That was after coach Michael Maguire told the former Kingaroy Red Ants junior he would make a better second rower, but his defence needed fine tuning.
Rather than kick stones, McQueen said he elected to look for positives.
"I wasn't as shocked with it as some other people were," the 25-year-old said. "Michael kept telling me I will make a better second rower than winger, but you get tired quicker playing in the forwards so I had to work on my fitness and defence."
And work he did. Recalled for the round 15 game against Paramatta, he ran for 96m and made 30 tackles.
Then in a memorable round 19 match against the Roosters he made 26 tackles, ran for 129m and set up two miracle tries in the last three minutes to help steal a memorable 24-22 win.
McQueen said it wasn't just his tackle counts that had improved under Maguire's tutelage.
"Michael's really big on discipline and defence," McQueen said. "Last year we could score from anywhere, but our defence could have been better.
"It took us a while to make improvements there in the pre-season ... now it's looking really good."
McQueen has always had the body to make it in the NRL as a forward, despite making his debut in the backline for the Rabbitohs in 2009.
"I've always been pretty tall - I was 100kg at 18," he said.
With more than 40 first grade games under his belt, McQueen said he saw himself as a senior player at Souths where Roy Asotasi, Michael Crocker, John Sutton, Matt King and Sam Burgess are co-captains.
"I've got my 50th game coming up and I'm not one of the young guys at the club anymore," he said. "I'd love to one day captain the side."
While he was comfortable talking about milestones and leadership aspirations, he didn't want to dwell on the subject of his third-placed team team playing finals football this year.
"There are a few guys that might be thinking about that, but this is the sort of competition where you can't afford to take your eyes off the next game," he said.