The man who has QLD scared
QUEENSLAND great Darren Lockyer has warned the Maroons to be on 'Matt Moylan alert', tipping the New South Wales rookie fullback as the major danger man in tonight's State of Origin series opener at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.
Injured halfback Cooper Cronk took part in Queensland's final ball work session at the venue last night, after the media was asked to leave.
Coach Kevin Walters earlier told reporters a decision about Cronk's position in the team would be made by medical staff this morning.
"He (Cronk) is quietly confident, but he will need to run and kick and do all those things he hasn't been able to do (since injuring his ankle on Friday)," Walters said.
"There won't be any risks with him. Cooper is honest enough with himself to know whether he can get through 80 minutes of Origin or not.
"In the past we've taken players into games that weren't 100%, or near 100% fit, and it's fallen apart on us."
Walters said he would let Cronk make the final call.
When told the Blues believed Queensland was playing mind games with Cronk's injury, Walters said, "I grew up in Ipswich so I don't know what smoke and mirrors are".
Lockyer said Moylan's inclusion at fullback gave NSW a different and potentially more dangerous look.
"He gives them a different dynamic to other years with his ball-playing ability - that makes him a serious threat out wide," the former Maroons captain said.
"Since (Anthony) Minichiello retired, NSW have had that running fullback like (Jarryd) Hayne or (Josh) Dugan, but Moylan is like another halfback because he has pace and he can play that three-on-two option out the back. That will put pressure on Justin O'Neill and Greg Inglis to be very good defensively laterally to combat him."
Walters agreed with Lockyer, admitting the gifted Panthers fullback, who has hit great club form since an early-season injury, was the player causing him the most concern as he prepared for one of the biggest experiences of his rugby league journey.
"We've spoken at length about his inclusion and what he brings to their side," Walters said.
"He brings a different dimension to their attack. There's a lot of skill about what he has been doing with Penrith, and you'd expect him to make the transition (to Origin) pretty smoothly."
Meanwhile Blues skipper Paul Gallen did his best to antagonise the Maroons camp earlier in the day, telling a media scrum his players would be going out to cause as much pain and suffering as possible.
"It's an Origin game and a lot of NRL rules go out the window," said the Blues captain, no stranger to making controversial comments about Queensland or its players.
"I am sure there will be a lot of niggle in every single tackle. We both hate each other and at the end of the day we're trying to hurt each other."
With rain forecast for tonight, the battle could degenerate into a slugfest up the middle which would suit the NSW bench, made up of huge forwards James Tamou, Andrew Fifita and David Klemmer.
Queensland fans know what their side will give. The question for NSW fans is: Has coach Laurie Daley gambled too much on the likes of halfback Adam Reynolds and Dylan Walker, a utility on the bench who can't cover many positions, or has he not gambled enough with new talent after the 52-6 demolition in last year's decider?