NSW have boldly declared they were able to get inside Johnathan Thurston’s head late in State of Origin II to put him off his game, and the Queensland superstar can expect more of the same in the series decider.
Thurston’s NRL teammate, North Queensland and Blues prop James Tamou, believes the Maroons’ playmaker was put off his game late at the MCG through the Blues’ relentless aggression, as they forced him into making some uncharacteristic errors.
Thurston was crunched in a legal tackle from Boyd Cordner as he kicked waywardly late in game two and Robbie Farah also hassled the Kangaroos’ star, forcing him to push a kick out on the full.
It is a blueprint NSW intend to take into Wednesday’s Origin III.
“I remember one time in game two, he kicked the ball out on the full and that is very uncharacteristic of him and I think we were getting to him,” Tamou said.
“One time there, Boyd Cordner flattened him and I think that really got to him, too.
“I hope that sticks in his head and reminds him and he takes that into game three, so that gets him off this game as well.”
Tamou said it was part of the amped up aggression the Blues took to Melbourne and they would again bring with them to Brisbane.
“Game one, we were too passive and Queensland had it all over us, so it was our duty to match them, I guess in game two, and I think they were surprised,” Tamou said.
“We will be taking the exact same attitude into game three – that is the winning formula.
“Some of the things JT (Thurston) did, that’s just not him, whether he flinched or, in his mind, he thought someone was coming at him, I’m not sure. But we will just have to do it again and hopefully he makes the same mistakes.”
NSW’s impact from their interchange bench let them down in game one, but it was vital to their game-two win.
Cordner said the Blues would have to bring it up a notch again for the decider.
“We have to try and bring that spark again,” he said.
“There were a few areas in game one we were lacking that we addressed in game two and, in Melbourne, we executed our game plan really well.
“Not much will be changing – we did a lot we did right. But we will have to do a lot better in game three because we know what it takes to play Queensland up there.
“Thurston still played a really good game and that goes to show the class of the bloke.
“But it just goes to show you can limit his chances and his opportunities how you go about the game, and we did do those things very well.”