Queensland too old? Petero Civoniceva’s heard that one before.
Ahead of Wednesday’s State of Origin decider, many have commented that some of Queensland’s great players might be getting too long in the tooth for the rigours of the series.
Eight of Queensland’s game-three squad are in their 30s – Justin Hodges (33), Corey Parker (33), Johnathan Thurston (32), Cameron Smith (32), Cooper Cronk (31), Jacob Lillyman (31), Nate Myles (30) and Sam Thaiday (30).
Only four of NSW’s team are past that milestone.
Civoniceva said it’s similar to the talk ahead of the 2006 series when he, fellow prop Steve Price and even Maroons skipper Darren Lockyer were labelled “Dad’s Army” by critics.
The trio all played a part in lifting Queensland to the first of their record eight straight series wins and Civoniceva said NSW supporters would be wise to remember how much of a role that criticism played.
“There’s been a bit of talk, right from the start of this series, that Queensland’s time was up,” Civoniceva told AAP.
“Reflecting on 2006, we very much were the underdogs and all the talk was about how NSW was going to complete the series by beating us down at the MCG.
“There’s similarities in the amount of talk there is about NSW and what they’re aiming to do up in Queensland but, I can tell ya, it’s tremendous motivation for the players.
“For me, Pricey and Locky at that time … that was perfect motivation and it helped inspire the week of preparation that we had.
“I’ve no doubt it would have been spoken about and those thoughts will be in the back of players’ minds.”
Civoniceva said the Maroons’ pack would also be desperate to atone for a game-two performance where they were outmuscled and outplayed by the Blues’ forwards.
He said all the debate over whether Robbie Farah would play despite his broken hand or be replaced by Mick Ennis was just one part of the puzzle the Maroons must solve.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a big call but I don’t think the Queensland side will be too worried who wears that number nine jersey, whether it’s Ennis or Farah,” Civoniceva said.
“It’s about just getting the job done.”