Sport

Maroons get heads right for State of Origin II showdown

Johnathan Thurston at the Maroons training session at Palmer Coolum Resort.
Johnathan Thurston at the Maroons training session at Palmer Coolum Resort. Iain Curry

STATE OF ORIGIN: Queensland coach Mal Meninga has backed his star players to raise their game in tonight's do-or-die State of Origin clash at Suncorp Stadium.

Halves Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk proved the difference in Queensland's thrilling series win last year but champion five-eighth Thurston went quiet in this series' opening game in Sydney, which the Blues won 14-6.

Admittedly, Thurston was suffering from a virus and a groin injury, and Meninga said there would be no pressure on the Cowboys pivot going into tonight's must-win game.

"There's no pressure on JT to do anything," Meninga said. "We understand he's been a great player for us over many years and he'll do the job again."

Thurston was not the only Maroons player criticised following Origin I, after Queensland's front row failed to match the aggression of the Blues.

Despite having just the one genuine front-rower for this game, however, Meninga is confident his engine room will get the job done.

"You look at Sam (Thaiday), you look at Nate (Myles), and they can play front row at the Broncos and Titans. Matt (Scott) plays in the middle - we're going to play 'Papa' in the middle," he said.

Meninga refused to buy into all the pre-game hype that Queensland's new public enemy No.1, combative Blues captain Paul Gallen, would be targeted.

"It's about us ... we haven't talked about it. We're not out there to intentionally target Paul Gallen," the master coach said.

Meninga admitted his team could not afford to trail 14-0 at half-time as they did in Sydney.

"I think our heads are right," he said.

"I'm thinking we'll get the start right. It'll be a very interesting first 20 minutes, I would imagine.

"We know we have to do better, we know we have to execute better, we know our attitude's got to be spot-on.

"We've got our backs against the wall."

Meninga was surprisingly relaxed at yesterday's press conference at Suncorp Stadium - a far cry to his impassioned "I'm stirred up because nobody gives us a chance" comment in 2006.

Rather than escalate a war of words, after headlines in Queensland accused the Blues of cheating in game one by not being square at marker, Meninga played down those concerns.

Blues coach Laurie Daley had hit back at those claims, saying the Maroons were also spotted offside in his video reviews.

"Laurie was right in a way," Meninga said.

"We did jump the marker a few times in the game.

"We just want it refereed fair. We want an even share of the referee's decisions throughout the game."

Topics:  editors picks, mal meninga, queensland, state of origin




Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

UPDATE: Police storm Lucas St home after four hour siege

Police on scene are wearing bullet-proof vests

Community divided over Emu Park boat ramp development

Proposed Emu Park boat ramp Option 2: Emu Park Photo: Department of Transport and Main Roads

Three sides of boat ramp discussion put forward their cases

Latest deals and offers

The 75 Baralaba Families Action Committee spokesperson Conrad Russo

The 75 Baralaba Families Action Committee spokesperson Conrad Russo

The 75 Baralaba Families Action Committee spokesperson Conrad Russo talks about the...

Man barricaded in house in Berserker

A man has barricaded himself in a house in Berserker and has threatened to burn...

RACQ releases SE Qld's worst choke points

Paul Turner, RACQ

Paul Turner from RACQ talks about our worst roads at peak time.

Real estate agent says new developments push area forward

ON THE UPSIDE: Shae O’Reilly says the Capricorn Coast and the wider region has plenty of projects going on while we wait for an outcome on Great Keppel Island.

"sentiment can’t hang its hat on one setback for one project"

Real estate reveals Rocky's rising suburbs

Pat O'Driscoll Real Estate sales consultant Talitha Dodson Photo: Contributed

Talitha Dodson says it’s not all doom and gloom

Demand for acreage lots pushes up property prices

Property values in Cooroy have increased 25%

Property values jump in Cooroy and Peachester.