Friday Frenzy: Raiders' plan to stop Carney
McCrone's new challenge, Prince praises Sezer, rep weekend gets a thumbs up from players and the 'Cam Smith' debacle...
‘KICK TO CORNERS’... If there is one positive that Josh McCrone can take out of the season-ending knee injury to halves partner and captain Terry Campese, it’s that he faced exactly the same scenario last year.
McCrone finds himself back in the No.6 jersey this weekend – just in time to face off against man-of-the-moment Todd Carney – but the Raiders playmaker told NRL.com that he didn’t expect his role to change too much now that Sam Williams was back alongside him at halfback.
“I enjoyed playing with Campo and I thought we were just starting to hit our straps but I’m looking forward to forming a combination with Sammy again,” he said ahead of Sunday’s must-win clash with Cronulla at Canberra Stadium.
“Last year we started a bit slowly but if we can string some consistent performances together like we did towards the end there is no reason why we can’t win some games.
“I don’t think my game changes too much anyway, with the way we play the left and the right, so I think it will be pretty similar.”
Asked about the prospect of facing the man most tip to fill the NSW five-eighth role this season, McCrone said: “Well, he usually plays on the other side of the field to me so I’m hoping I don’t see too much of him. I’m happy for him not to come over to my side of the field!
“But I think the main challenge for me and Sammy now that Campo is injured is to kick them into the corners so that Todd can’t have as big a say in the game – because he certainly comes to life once they get over the halfway line.
“It will be a good challenge for us. Cronulla could easily be seven wins from seven if they got a bit of luck in those first two games and their back row has been really impressive with Gallen, Jeremy Smith and Jason Bukuya. They’re a real handful and with Todd playing off the back of that – we’ve got to be at our best to beat them.”
THE NAME GAME... For the record, Storm, Maroons and Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith has never asked for his first name to be abbreviated to ‘Cam’.
“I have no idea [why people are calling me Cam],” he tells NRL.com. “Someone told me there was a small article in the paper a few years back that ‘Cameron Smith wanted to be known as Cam’. I don’t know where that came from! It might’ve been one of my former team-mates or someone stitching me up – and whoever it was has got me a beauty! All of a sudden I had so many people coming up to me asking me if I wanted them to call me Cam now! I was like, ‘what’s going on here?’
“Obviously commentators and journos have run with it and this sort of stuff. I do get ‘Cam’ now and again by my family and my mates… but one thing I do want to get out there is that at no stage in my life have I ever asked people to call me ‘Cam’. I’m happy with either but my name is Cameron, put it that way!”
HAIL, SEZER… Titans captain Scott Prince has high hopes for his partnership with Aidan Sezer following the youngster’s impressive NRL debut against Manly last round.
Sezer scored a try with one of his first touches of the football and was solid all-round as he helped the Titans to a drought-breaking win and Prince believes the pair can form a strong bond over the coming weeks.
“It’s going really well,” the veteran halfback said. “His kicking game is outstanding. It helps me immensely having a left-footer. It really takes the pressure of me and Matty Srama as well out of dummy-half.
“It’s a work in progress but it’s coming along quite nicely.”
Sezer faces another stern test against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium tonight but Prince said the Titans couldn’t afford to be worried about the opposition.
“We respect every team we play but you can’t give too much respect or they will run all over you,” he said.
“For us it’s about being worried about our own backyard and playing to the best of our ability.
“Brisbane are one of the form teams of the comp but we’ll go in there… we’ve got skills, they’ve got skills, so let’s match them.”
The Titans are confident star centre Jamal Idris will take his place after he made it through the side’s final training session yesterday. Idris has struggled with a hamstring injury since the start of the year.
GLENN’S RESOLUTION… Broncos back-rower Alex Glenn has put his impressive start to 2012 down to a pre-season resolution to take on greater responsibility this year following the retirement of long-time captain Darren Lockyer.
The battle for back row spots has been fierce in Brisbane this season, with Glenn having to contend with Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker, Ben Te’o and Matt Gillett for a starting role. However, having earned his place in the second row and played in his first Anzac Test for New Zealand last week, the 23-year-old said he was enjoying the opportunity to lead by example.
“That’s what I have been trying to do … lead with my actions. I don’t really do too much talking before the game because everyone knows their job and what to do, so I just get out there and do my job for the team, lead with my actions.
“I’m happy with my performance so far. I guess I’m doing the right things because I was selected in that Kiwis Test. I’ve just got to keep playing consistent football and every day work at becoming a better player at training… doing all the little things and the one-percenters. That way I can be a better player and it will help the team.”
Glenn paid tribute to Brisbane’s crop of rising stars, pointing to the club’s disappointing 2010 season in which they missed the finals for the first time in 19 years as the catalyst for their revival since.
“We’ve definitely become a tight-knit group,” he said. “A couple of years back we were doing it tough and didn’t make the semi-finals for the first time in so many years. All those boys that played that year are starting to mature now… Josh McGuire, Benny Hunt – they’re all maturing to this quick style of football. Everyone is really making their mark for the team.”
Brisbane head into Friday night’s clash with the Gold Coast sitting second with six wins from seven in 2012.
REP THUMBS-UP… Last week’s special representative weekend has proven hugely popular with players around the NRL, with those not taking part in either the Anzac Test or City-Country game taking full advantage of the break.
“The timing is great for us,” Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman said. “We worked pretty hard last week but then we had the weekend off to get away from it all and relax. Every year it takes a few games for the body to get used to playing again so to get that break when we did is really going to help everyone, I think.”
• Additional reporting: Nick Janzen