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State of Origin II: Blues ready to push pain threshold higher

Date

Brad Walter and Phil Lutton

Ready to give everything again: Beau Scott.

Ready to give everything again: Beau Scott. Photo: Getty Images

Even now, no one in the NSW camp really knows just how they managed to hang on and win Origin I but, to a man, the Blues believe the confidence they gained from that effort will finally help them end Queensland's eight-year winning streak at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.

With fighting now virtually a thing of the past in State of Origin because of the "no punching" rules introduced to the game after last year's Paul Gallen-Nate Myles stoush, NSW players found a new way to define toughness in the series opener as the Morris twins, Brett and Josh, ignored serious injuries to make try-saving tackles and teammates battled fatigue to defend their line in the final minutes.

As he looked at the Suncorp Stadium clock with two minutes to go, exhausted Blues second-rower Beau Scott remembers thinking he wouldn't be able to last that long but, with Josh Morris and Anthony Watmough already forced from the field, he had no choice as NSW were out of interchanges.

Warrior: Brett Morris.

Warrior: Brett Morris. Photo: Getty Images

Despite dislocating and fracturing his shoulder, winger Brett Morris also had to remain on the field as the Blues defended six of the last eight sets of tackles after a number of controversial decisions by referees Shayne Hayne and Ben Cummins.

"I think the injury toll at the end just reiterated how big a game it was for the players," Scott said. "We have taken a lot of confidence and a lot of belief out of that. With the crowd the way they are up there and, given how dominant Queensland has been in the past eight years, to get that win was a milestone for us.

"We were just getting by at the end of the game and just holding on and I know, personally, when I looked up at the clock and saw there was two minutes to go, I didn't know how much more I had in the tank.

"But looking back at the way we held on there, and with the penalties and decisions against us, there were no individuals, it was a team effort. That is what we are trying to build here so to take that sort of belief into game two I think it is going to be vital."

After coming from the field at full-time, Scott was physically ill and Blues officials had to assign someone to be with him throughout the night at the team hotel.

During the game, it had been absolute mayhem for long-serving NSW trainer Ron Palmer and physiotherapist Liz Steet as they dealt with serious injuries to Brett Morris (shoulder), Josh Morris (knee), Watmough (biceps) and a number of other players.

"A lot of our players got to a point in Origin I that they have never been to before," Palmer recalled. "We talk about going to a dark place, well they went there.

"You could just tell by the actual look of them, the fatigue sapped the majority of them. I have never seen that before with some of the big performers and established blokes like Beau Scott, Paul Gallen and Jarryd Hayne. They were at the stage where they had just about emptied the tank fully and that doesn't happen very often.

"Sometimes you come into the sheds and, within half an hour, they are fresh as a daisy and away they go, but these guys were just physically spent and had nothing left to give."

Brett Morris had dislocated his shoulder when he scored the Blues' first try in the 19th minute, and Steet was monitoring him closely and trying unsuccessfully to get Watmough back into the game when Palmer told her Josh Morris had injured his knee.

After racing to the far side of the field to treat Josh Morris, Steet had just finishing telling him he had suffered cruciate damage when the right centre suddenly shouted: "F---".

"I thought he was swearing because of what I had just told him but, on reflection, I think he swore because Greg Inglis was sprinting down the park," Steet said. "I had my back to the game and Josh was looking at it. He literally jumped out of my hand and ran and chased to tackle Greg. I had just told him that he had done his cruciate and I think his reaction was, 'It is gone now so I will just do what I can'. And he did, which was awesome. 

"I followed him around until we were defending our line again and that was horrific, watching them just defending on that side and knowing that Josh was gone, Brett was obviously gone as well and poor old Beau was absolutely spent. He was very unwell that whole night just from being completely exhausted and probably dehydrated but he just had to hang on out there because we were running out troops."

Even their Queensland opponents were in awe at the courage of the Blues; Johnathan Thurston said they had set a new standard of what was expected in Origin now.

"You saw a few of those courageous players in game one – obviously the Morris boys – and I can't see Origin football letting up any time soon," Thurston said. "That’s what Origin does to you, it brings out the best."

Maroons winger Brent Tate said Origin had moved on from the fighting for which it was once renowned.

"The game is more than that, it's about players pushing themselves to the limits and there were some amazing feats in game one, with guys beaten up on both sides but still going," Tate said. "The dressing rooms after the game looked like a war zone. That’s why people love Origin. Just in the street, people were talking about what a great game it was, even though we lost. The spectacle is getting bigger and bigger."

Queensland centre Justin Hodges said: "Game one was very tough with all of the injuries. The guys are pushing the boundaries and I think they will get pushed further on Wednesday night."

NSW coach Laurie Daley told his players not only would have to repeat their efforts from the series opener, but also lift further to win the series.

"I think they will take a lot of confidence out of that and, when you reach a level, you want to try to get there again and we will need to show that sort of commitment again," Daley said. "But I think they have taken a lot of confidence out of the opening game and what they did in that game."

 

 

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