Former Queensland prop Greg Dowling says targeted rookie NSW halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson will be burnt out by the Origin I kick-off.
Sorry, long suffering NSW fans – rookie Blues halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson will be burnt out before they even take the field in the State of Origin opener in Brisbane on Wednesday night.
Ex-Queensland prop Greg Dowling says the Bulldogs pair may be the form NRL combination but the amount of nervous energy the young guns use by kick-off at Suncorp Stadium will prove their undoing.
The knives have been out for Queensland’s “Dad’s Army” south of the Tweed after seven players aged 30 or older were named in the Maroons squad.
And the Blues are suddenly backing themselves to break the Maroons’ vice-like grip on Origin despite bringing the total number of playmakers they have experimented with since 2006 to 17 by handing Reynolds and Hodkinson the NSW reins.
Dowling – a veteran of 11 Origins in the 1980s – said it was a no brainer that Queensland would target the inexperienced duo in the series opener.
But he believed most of the hard work would be done for them before the stressed pair even ran out onto the field in front of an expected sold out Suncorp Stadium for Origin game No.100.
Maroons mentor Mal Meninga had raised eyebrows during their week-long Gold Coast camp for his low key preparation, even calling off some training sessions.
But Dowling believed it all made sense for an experienced, familiar Maroons outfit vying for an unprecedented ninth straight Origin series win.
“This team has been called Dad’s Army and what have you,” Dowling told AAP.
“But that experience counts for a lot in Origin, and that’s what will get them through on game night.
“It’s why Mal and the guys have been so relaxed.
“They don’t burn up the extra energy like the NSW boys – those Blues halves will be exhausted by tomorrow night.
“They will be wasting so much time wondering and thinking about what is going to happen.”
Meninga admitted they would be out to ensure an Origin to forget for the Blues halves.
“They are two of the better players in the competition at the moment as is their combination,” Meninga said.
“Our job is to make it a very uncomfortable night for them.”
Dowling backed Immortal Wally Lewis’ call this week that NSW still did not “get” the Origin concept.
Especially after Blues captain Paul Gallen called Queenslanders “two heads” and NSW coach Laurie Daley welcomed leading sport scientist Dr Craig Duncan and a team of interns into their Coffs Harbour camp to ensure they’re at peak fitness by monitoring the likes of sleep patterns.
“The last couple of games in the series have been close. NSW are not that far off the pace, ” Dowling said.
“But they just don’t get it. They chop and change their team and that plays into our hands.
“And Queensland know what to expect, they know what it takes to win the game – it’s self belief not arrogance.”
Meninga said they had looked within rather than outside as they prepared to tighten their incredible Origin hold.
“The Paul Gallen ‘two heads’ thing is not a factor. We don’t need that to motivate us,” he said.
“We have our own internal factors. It’s very simple stuff and the reason we are so successful is that we do it well.”