A back-row blooper
QUEENSLAND hooker Cameron Smith believes New South Wales’ decision to unleash a barrage of back-rowers in Origin II could backfire on a sodden ANZ Stadium pitch.
Desperate to level the series, the Blues will attempt to isolate Queensland’s bigger forwards with its more mobile pack.
But with more rain predicted for an all-ready saturated Sydney, Smith reckoned the tactic could prove futile in a “slugfest”.
“If it’s going to be wet and sloppy and muddy then that sort of takes those guys out of the game,” he said at Coolum yesterday.
“It really brings everyone back to square again. It’s just down to whoever holds on to the ball the best and generates the most pressure.”
Smith suggested the Blues were eager to play an up-tempo match tomorrow after new referees Shayne Hayne and Ben Cummins had been told to speed up the ruck for game two.
“Obviously knowing that it’s going to be refereed differently they (NSW) thought the best way is to go with guys that have good leg speed that can manoeuvre around our bigger boys and get that roll-on and get quicker plays of the ball,” the 27-year-old Storm star said.
“But as everyone is saying, it’s going to be pretty wet down there. That almost takes them out of the game. It doesn’t (completely) take them out of the game but it minimises what they do.”
After narrowly losing Origin I 16-12 in Brisbane, the Blues made a host of changes for game two, including sacrificing hulking props Jason King and Kade Snowden for the likes of agile loose forwards Anthony Watmough and Luke Lewis.
But 22-game stalwart Smith said: “I didn’t think King and Snowden did too much wrong in that first game.
“They were on the back foot for a whole half of the match so there wasn’t too much they could do other than tackling our boys.
“We’ve always enjoyed having the big boys in our forward pack; they’ve always done a great job, particularly Petero (Civoniceva) who has done it for such a long time and obviously Matt Scott.
“Everyone’s talking about how well he’s going and that he’s the best prop in the game.
“I reckon he could have that mantle fairly soon.”
And the Maroons are looking to claim their sixth successive series triumph on the back of a tried and true method and one that should suit the wet conditions.
“We believe playing through the middle works for us,” Smith said.
“With the wet and slippery conditions at ANZ it doesn’t change the way we approach the game at all.
“It will probably be a similar game to what it was in game one last year, just a bit of a slugfest for most of the game and trying to get the best field position.
“We know that ball control and field position is the main priority for us.”