Gallen confident Blues can level Origin series
STATE OF ORIGIN | Defeat for Ricky Stuart’s men would be a savage blow for the Blues, who have left no stone unturned to try to end the dominance of Mal Meninga’s mighty Maroons side.
DESPITE staring down the barrel of a seventh successive State of Origin series loss to arguably the greatest side assembled by Queensland, Blues’ skipper Paul Gallen claims the current NSW team is the best he’s been a part of.
Defeat for Ricky Stuart’s men would be a savage blow for the Blues, who have left no stone unturned to try to end the dominance of Mal Meninga’s mighty Maroons side.
It’s estimated $3 million has been spent by the NSWRL in ensuring Stuart has everything he needs to prepare a side capable of toppling Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and co for the first time since 2005.
Meninga’s side arrive in Sydney on Tuesday, amid accusations of being arrogant and smug by Stuart, who was responding to claims from Meninga that NSW lack the mentality for Origin.
However, Gallen, who made his debut in 2006, said the jibes from the coaches are just part of the build-up, and has no doubt his side can level the series and erase the memory of last month’s 18-10 defeat in Melbourne.
“This is probably the best Origin team I have played for in the 11 times I’ve been involved,” Gallen said.
“Every player picked is in the position they play at club level and they’re all in form.
“We’re going in with 100 per cent confidence and have ticked all the boxes so far and we’ve got one more session to finetune things before Wednesday.”
Gallen also backed his Cronulla teammate Todd Carney to put his nervous debut at Etihad Stadium behind him and show he’s a player capable of performing on the biggest stage when he runs out at ANZ Stadium in front of a crowd of more than 81,000.
“We’ve all seen what Origin can do to quality first-graders,” said the 30-year-old.
“He was nervous. The big stage, the big arena – it happens to everyone.
“He knows what it’s all about, what the week is all about, and we’ll see a different Todd Carney on Wednesday.”
And the torrential rain that’s left Sydney soaked has Gallen thinking it could work to the Blues’ advantage.
The harbour city was deluged on Monday and, although the forecast is for the rain to ease off, the pitch at ANZ Stadium will be far from conducive to an expansive game, which Gallen believes could work in favour of the hosts.
“It probably does a little bit,” he said.
“They’ve got such expansive players and can switch the ball from side to side.
“But I have been over in England and played with these guys and they have done it there in the wet.
“I don’t think it really suits any side too much. But if you are going to lean towards someone, it may suit us more.” - AAP
IMAGE: Blues skipper Gallen thinks his men can catch Smith and his galloping Maroons. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)