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Papalii hopes to be Qld driving force

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/06/2016 Laine Clark

Staring down old foe Paul Gallen did not faze Queensland wrecking ball Josh Papalii in the State of Origin series opener in Sydney.

But there were some anxious moments when he got back to the team hotel.

Papalii faced his stiffest opposition of the evening when he told his partner Sepasalesa they would be driving back from Sydney to Canberra that night.

It seemed nothing was going to stop Papalii driving through the early hours to attend NRL club Canberra's training session the next morning.

Not his partner's clear displeasure.

Or that they also had to bring their young daughter and Papalii's brother and his wife along for the midnight ride.

"My missus wasn't a fan of it," Papalii shrugged.

"She was pretty off me.

"After the game I was pretty knackered and my missus had the little one all day but I got back to the hotel and said, 'We're going to go for a drive now'.

"I literally got back to the hotel, said bye to the boys and made our way down to Canberra."

Remarkably, Papalii attended Raiders training the next morning then came off the bench to amass 114m in Canberra's 30-18 round 13 win over Manly - 48 hours after his best Origin yet.

Papalii made 111m in his longest Origin stint to date - 41 minutes - in Queensland's 6-4 win in game one in Sydney on June 1.

A sneaky drive home will be out of the question after Origin II in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

But Papalii hopes to steer his team in the right direction against a NSW team aiming to lift for his rival Gallen.

The Blues will be desperate to keep the series alive in game two in a bid to send skipper Gallen out a winner in his Origin swan song.

Papalii has a long history with Gallen, going back to a now-infamous NRL clash in Canberra in 2012.

In that game, Cronulla's Gallen appeared to headbutt Papalii early before the Raiders battering ram got his own back with a shuddering hit later described by the Sharks captain as a "dog act".

When asked about Gallen, Papalii adopted the same approach he used when he told his partner they were making a post-Origin I return home - he tread carefully.

"I don't try and talk that up too much," he said.

"I am trying to play my brand of footy - play aggressive, play hard, tackle hard, tackle whoever is front of me.

"But of course Gallen will be a factor (in Origin II).

"It's his last series so obviously he will bring a lot - we have to try and shut that down."

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