Date: May 23 2012
NSW will have one last crack at breaking down Queensland's longest serving forward Petero Civoniceva in tonight's opening State of Origin clash at Etihad Stadium.
The Blues unwisely labelled Civoniceva and his then front-row partner Steve Price ''Dad's Army'' back in 2006 and have been regretting it ever since.
But at 36, and not in quite the same form as previous Origins, Civoniceva has invited an extremely mobile and aggressive NSW pack to go hunting him in his 31st Origin following his decision to go around for Queensland one more time.
The tactic has backfired previously with NSW failing to get the better of the giant Fijian-born forward in the past six years.
But with a new weapon in hulking Cowboys prop and rookie Kangaroo James Tamou, tipping the scales at 114kg, joining captain Paul Gallen in an impressive front row, the Blues fancy their chances. Their mobile and dangerous pack will put Civoniceva's mobility and ageing legs to the test, promising him a thorough examination up the middle.
The Queensland forwards staged a full-blooded private tackling session yesterday, at prominent racehorse owner Laurence Eales's property outside Melbourne, which reportedly left at least one player gasping for breath.
Queensland assistant coach and champion halfback Allan Langer knows only too well from his 34 Origin games how vital the battle of the big men is to the outcome and says tonight will be no different.
''I know Petero, last year … they tried to run him around and he's going to be up against it again because they're very mobile and they're going to try and tire us out,'' Langer said yesterday. ''They'll throw the ball around, run their big guys at us, they've done it all before.
''We've got to make sure we're defending well, in Origin you have to get your defence right and your attack will come.''
''That's where the game is going to be won [up front]. It all starts with defence.''
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