Adam Reynolds and the rest of the NSW Blues rookies are bracing for Queensland to give them a hellish introduction when they make their State of Origin debuts on Wednesday night.
Queensland skipper Cameron Smith believes Reynolds will be buoyed by playing in front of an expected sellout home crowd, but that won’t stop the Maroons testing the halfback’s bottle.
“He’s played in big matches before and played a lot of football at that ground, so he’s quite familiar with those surroundings,” Smith said on Monday.
“I think he will feel quite at home to be honest. If you are making your debut in State of Origin, it’s nice to do it at home. He will have everyone on his side and supporting him.
“I can’t see him being overawed at all, but at the same time we are going to be asking a few questions of him – we will see how he responds.”
While Smith had no hesitation admitting they would toss a few grenades Reynolds’ way – probably in the form of South Sydney clubmate Greg Inglis – Blues coach Laurie Daley wasn’t afraid to throw one back.
“We know (Reynolds is) going to be put under all sorts of pressure,” Daley said.
“When you play your first Origin game, you expect it. So Matty Moylan’s expecting it, Josh Mansour is expecting it, Adam Reynolds is expecting it.
“Adam will be ready for that. I don’t think anyone will get under his skin, put it that way.
“Who knows, there might be someone in the Queensland team we’d want to target ourselves.”
Asked who that may be, Daley declined to say, but he is certain it won’t be Queensland’s less-talked about right pair of Justin O’Neill and Dane Gagai.
“O’Neill’s won a comp with the Cowboys and was going to be selected as the centre regardless of who was there or not. And Dane Gagai, we can all remember what he did to us in game three last year,” he said.
Blues great Steve Roach, who was in camp with the Blues last week, said if the first-gamers were nervous about making their debuts, they were concealing it well.
“I can’t believe how cool they are. I don’t know where it’s hiding, their nerves are better than what we used to do. But these guys are cool, calm and collected,” he said
“Maybe it might change a little bit now that they’re down in Sydney. I don’t know if they’re hiding it, but if they are, they’re doing it well.”