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State of Origin: Blues to launch aerial attack

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Michael Carayannis
Weapon: Daniel Tupou in the 2013 Grand Final. © Adam McLean Weapon: Daniel Tupou in the 2013 Grand Final.

The Blues are planning an aerial assault on Queensland’s back three as they look to leap their way to victory on Wednesday night.

NSW have pinpointed the bomb as their attacking weapon in a bid to rattle the Maroons. Debutant winger Daniel Tupou looms as an obvious target on the Blues' left wing, having swung matches for his club side the Sydney Roosters by soaring high into the air, including terrorising opposite David Williams in last year’s grand final.

In part, Tupou was picked because of his reach, while fellow winger Brett Morris and fullback Jarryd Hayne are among the most-noted leapers in the the NRL. Tupou stands at 195 centimetres, while his opposite Brent Tate is 10 centimetres shorter. Tate, Darius Boyd (185cm) and Billy Slater (178cm) make up one of the smallest back threes in Origin history.

NSW assistant coach Paul McGregor said the plan to target Queensland’s back three was obvious.

“That’s a strength of ours,” McGregor said. “They’ll be expecting it and we won’t disappoint them. Tupou doesn’t talk too much, but he has a real presence when he trains. He is a giant. He has a nice strong carry in the back of the field.”

The pressure will be on Blues' halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds’ kicking game. Hodkinson will assume most kicking responsibilities, while hooker Robbie Farah also has the ability to kick accurately.

“We’ve got a few targets there and we have three guys that can get high in the air,” McGregor said. “Brett Morris scored a freakish try against the Sharks earlier this year.

“Origin is all about field possession. If you can win that you can put pressure on the opposition and you get an opportunity to test what you think is our strength – which we think is our wingers.”

The Blues’ failure to capitalise on attacking opportunities and build pressure with their kicking game has contributed to their downfall.  Farah said it had been a focus of the NSW preparations.

“It’s important we get the end of our sets right,” Farah said. “It’s so crucial. It’s an area in the last few years where we have let ourselves down. It’s such a key factor in big games that your end to your sets are spot on, that’s a massive advantage to Trent’s game.”

Queensland could consider switching centre Greg Inglis to the wing when the Maroons defend on their try line, to try and halt the Blues bombing away. However, McGregor doesn’t feel as if the Maroons would benefit too much from any changes.

“They’ve been so successful, I don’t think they’ll think that they’ll need to change anything except to go with what they have already had,” McGregor said.

“Their could be an easy switch 'GI' [Inglis] just for the sake of stopping some sort of assault. I don’t think they will though.

“It doesn’t show any confidence in the bloke that they’ve picked to play on the wing. They might start to doubt why they’ve got there, and that’s not good heading into an Origin.”

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