“We can’t let Gal go out like this.”
That’s the sole motivation driving NSW firebrand David Klemmer as the Blues prepare for their do-or-die State of Origin encounter next Wednesday in Brisbane.
Skipper Paul Gallen will play his final game in a Blues jumper at Suncorp Stadium, where the retiring prop has won just one of his 10 games for his state, the most-recent loss being last year’s 52-6 humiliation in game three.
The 34-year-old is just 80 minutes away from another series defeat, providing Klemmer with plenty of incentive to force a decider back in Sydney in what could be Gallen’s fairytale farewell.
“Gal’s put it out there that this will be his last season and, as a playing group, you don’t want a NSW legend to go out like that. It’s a big game for us and we’re up for it,” Klemmer told AAP.
The Canterbury enforcer isn’t short of reasons for wanting to bury his Suncorp demons next week.
Just three days after being embarrassed in the Origin decider, Klemmer returned to the hostile environment with his Bulldogs teammates only to be dumped again by eight points against Brisbane.
Klemmer said he had become a different player after that week.
“I know it hurt a lot. I versed Brisbane on that Saturday straight after it and lost to them so it wasn’t a good week for me. We only just lost, too,” he recalled.
“I personally learnt a lot out of that week. One year on now and I’m a different person and a different player. I’ll be taking game two nice and calmly and very excited.”
The Blues are in the same predicament as last year, faced with a must-win encounter in game two, where the 22-year-old Klemmer famously stood up to Maroons veteran Corey Parker in a breakout performance.
However, the Parramatta junior promised there wouldn’t be a repeat of the fireworks that caused a war of words with the Broncos’ statesman.
“Those things are past us now. It’s happened and it stayed on the field,” Klemmer said.
“They’ve got some of the best front-rowers in the game in their forward pack, but we’ve got a forward pack here that matches it with them. We’re equally as good as them.”