Rugby League


Tongue backs Blues to get job done

In this week's instalment of Tongue 'n' Cheek, Raiders great Alan Tongue tips Ricky Stuart's Blues to go on an clinch an historic State of Origin series victory in Brisbane.

Cheek: What about those Blues on Wednesday night? Absolutely sensational. The key will be can they back it up in front of 50,000 screaming Queenslanders?

Tongue: I think the Blues can do it. A couple of injury concerns to Queensland will help, but it's always a tough ask to go up there with Petero Civoniceva's farewell coinciding with that game. NSW learnt a lot out of the first couple games and they've shown they can match it with Queensland.

Cheek: A lot of that came off the back of your former Raiders teammate Todd Carney, who copped a fair bit of stick after his effort in game one.

Tongue: He was outstanding. He wasn't terrible in game one, he was just quiet. A lot of people had huge expectations on him and what he'd been doing for the Sharks was simply amazing. He talked about being nervous and the game slipped away from him, but he had a fair performance. In game two, he was great, setting up that try to Brett Stewart. That was a huge point in the game.

Cheek: Raiders prop David Shillington had a blinder for the Maroons. Is it time to move Petero aside and slip Shillo into the starting side?


Tongue: It depends on how they want to play it. They've obviously shown great respect for Petero for what he's done for the Queensland side over a number of years, but Shillo's been playing his role off the bench. The opening 20 minutes of the game is really important and you want to make sure you've got your strongest team on the park. But you can't underestimate the value of guys who come off the bench and provide that impact. A lot of people are calling for him to start, but if Petero can do his job early and Shillo can come off the bench 20 minutes in, that's a huge injection.

Cheek: Origin was awesome, but let's not forget about the Raiders. Yes, they got the points against the Knights last weekend, but they're not travelling too flash themselves.

Tongue: It is going to take a good win against a couple of the top sides for the Raiders to be taken seriously, and the Cowboys up there is going to be a tough test. You need to tick that one off first, but the Raiders can take plenty out of last weekend. It was a huge week, a huge game and a huge turnaround. There was some character shown and they can build on some confidence from that. Everybody agrees they need to be better to beat the Cowboys.

Cheek: I'm jumping around the house at the prospect of the Dugan v Thurston match-up, especially after 'Duges' carved up the Knights.

Tongue: I remember reading an article with Darren Lockyer saying it's going to take him at least a month before he gets his head around playing at five-eighth. We're two weeks in. From the Wests Tigers game to Newcastle, the improvement he had there was quite remarkable. If he can keep improving like that, you should try to persist with him there. There was a marked difference in his game and I think conditions at Canberra Stadium didn't favour his running game and coming into five-eighth for the first time. He's only going to get better.