RESOLUTE back-rower Sam Thaiday has pledged to protect Queensland’s game-breaking halves from a New South Wales pack that is preparing to launch a barrage of ball-playing forwards their way.
The Blues have boldly sacrificed some of their heavy artillery from Origin I in favour of a more mobile engine room for game two and as a result the Maroons are on guard.
“It means we’re going to have to work harder (in defence) on Wednesday night,” Thaiday said yesterday.
“My job is going to have to be a lot harder, too. I’m going to have to protect (Darren) Lockyer a lot more. I’ll be making a few tackles out there I think.”
NSW has replaced traditional front-rowers Jason King and Kade Snowden with agile back-rowers Anthony Watmough and Luke Lewis and its pack will boast ball-players Ben Creagh, Paul Gallen and Beau Scott.
“I think they will try and send a lot of traffic Lockyer’s way again, as per usual, and they’ll do the same with Johnathan (Thurston) as well,” Thaiday said.
“Having those faster, mobile players means they are going to use a lot more footwork and try to skip out a little bit wider.”
Queensland halfback Thurston is also wary of a Blues line-up looking to employ a rapid-fire assault.
“No doubt there’ll be a lot of traffic thrown my way and Locky’s way also, so we’ve got to do our best to combat that,” Thurston said.
“Obviously, their pack is very mobile and that’s where they’ll try and attack us around the ruck, and be up-tempo.
“If we’re not tight defensively, they’ve got blokes with great footwork and good play-of-the-ball speed where they’ll put us on the back foot. If they do that it’s going to be a long night.”
However, Thurston backed his back-row bodyguards to shut the Blues’ raids down.
“Sam is very strong defensively and he can hit and he’s fairly mobile for a big bloke as well,” he said.
“Ashley Harrison’s done a really good job on the left side for us and no doubt Dave Taylor will be there somewhere as well. We’re fairly strong.”
Thurston said NSW’s selection of multiple loose forwards was a daring gamble.
“If it comes off, Sticky (NSW coach Ricky Stuart) will be a genius and if it doesn’t, they’ll look to go elsewhere,” he said.
“We’ll just have to wait and see.”