Hoffman: Beau knows how to stop JT
Blues second-rower Ryan Hoffman has backed former high school teammate Beau Scott as the man to stop Johnathan Thurston in his tracks when the Origin series kicks off next Wednesday.
Thurston has been the single greatest constant in Queensland's eight-year dominance of the Origin arena, and will take the field at Suncorp in arguably career-best touch, leading the NRL for try and line break assists with 14 and 13 in each category.
Charged with keeping Queensland's most devastating attacking weapon under wraps is the 30-year-old Knights enforcer - who coincidentally lined up alongside Hoffman in his final year at famed western Sydney nursery St. Gregory's College Campbelltown.
Scott returns to the NSW fold after being overlooked for last year's series on the back of a typically bullish campaign for the Knights, and Hoffman is confident his fellow back-rower can keep Thurston quiet on the left edge where he has terrorised the Blues since making his debut in 2005.
"It's a tough gig that's for sure, but that's what you pick the tough players for and that's why Beau's here," Hoffman told NRL.com.
"He's a strong defender, and he's done the job before marking up on some of the best in the game.
"Everyone thinks your Origin players are the big, rough, bash-'em-up blokes, but that's not the case.
"Origin players are the players who do the little things consistently, and that's the best thing about Beau, he won't let anyone down there.
"You know when you line up against him that you're not in for any easy night, and I can't remember him ever defending badly against us, so I don't see any reason why he won't be doing that for the Blues."
Scott was ruled out of the Knights' Round 10 one-point loss against Manly with a torn abdominal muscle that he first injured in the City-Country clash three weeks ago, but Hoffman was adamant the Picton junior would be fit and firing for the series opener.
"You couldn't keep him out of it, and I don't know anyone brave enough to try," said Hoffman.
"He's a bit like me, he's been out of it for a while, but once you get back in you're desperate to stay there, so he'll be right."
Hoffman, who suits up for his ninth game in the sky blue, knows Queensland's key men better than most, and said the secret to shutting down his Melbourne teammates Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater is nothing more than the oldest tactic in the rugby league playbook.
"They can't be a threat if we don't give them ball. It comes down to us completing and not giving them a chance, and keeping the ball away from them.
"It's a simple thing to say, but in the end those guys are such potent attacking weapons that you can't think about keeping them quiet once they've got the opportunity to attack.
"You don't give them any chance in the first place, the less ball you give them at your end the less you have to worry about them causing you grief."