Queensland’s glamour backline may have been hit by injury and retirement but NSW feel it remains the Maroons’ biggest State of Origin weapon because of the stellar form of Darius Boyd.
Blues prop Aaron Woods says Boyd was outstanding in Queensland’s 6-4 series-opening win and says NSW will be on high alert for the Brisbane fullback in next week’s game two at Suncorp Stadium.
Season-ending injuries to Billy Slater and Will Chambers and Justin Hodges’s retirement have threatened to take some edge off Queensland’s backline.
The NSW big men matched it with the Queensland pack in Origin I, but Woods said it was the opposition’s small men who had cut them up around the ruck.
He reserved special praise for Boyd, calling his effort with 165m and six tackle busts a deciding factor.
“I think we (the Blues forwards) let ourselves down a little bit there,” Woods said.
“We let their little nippy blokes get in around the ruck.
“We had a big emphasis on stopping their back three but I think Darius Boyd was probably best on field as well.
“We’ve got a big job.”
While the Maroons were forced to blood Corey Oates and Justin O’Neill in game one, Woods credited the impact of the Queensland backline despite going into the match with designs on tempering their influence
Woods lamented the impact of the likes of Boyd, Oates, Greg Inglis and Dane Gagai who all ran in excess of 100 metres in game one and said stopping them remained key.
“We did (have a plan for the Queensland backs) in game one but this is another game now,” Woods said.
“Last couple of years guys like Will Chambers and Justin Hodges ran for 200-plus metres.
“It’s just something we have to work on.”