Papalii primed to bruise Blues
Bring a Taser gun.
That's the simple advice Maroons enforcer Nate Myles has for New South Wales forwards who will be charged with the awesome task of containing a determined Josh Papalii on Wednesday night.
Less than four weeks after dropping himself to the Raiders' feeder club Souths Logan Magpies to play a week in the Intrust Super Cup, Papalii is preparing for his third Origin match with questions surrounding whether he can recapture the form that earned him a berth in the Kangaroos' World Cup squad last October.
In seven games this year Papalii just has the one line break but 18 tackle breaks and Myles said if his intensity during the Maroons' training sessions is anything to go by, the Blues better up the weaponry they're intending to bring to Suncorp Stadium.
"Take more like a Taser gun. If I had one I'd shoot him," Myles said of the task of stopping a fired-up Papalii. "If you ever want to do a tackling drill, do it with him. It's dead-set like hitting a fridge.
"'Papa' is a really genuine dude and I think the fact that he is in this environment that he loves so much I just think he's up for a big one. Just because I don't think he's the type of person that wants to feel like he's being carried or that he's not part of it.
"He's in here and you see the way he trains and he's starting to talk more and it's fantastic to watch someone so quiet get a little bit cranky on the training paddock, it's really enjoyable.
"When he gets that leg speed going it's fantastic to be on the same side of. But like I said, Papa is the type of person that he's – not so much to prove a point – but to show why he's there."
Both sides are going into the Series opener with just two recognised front-rowers in a sign of the continuing evolution for which Origin has became famous for.
The Blues have stocked their bench with back-rowers known for using late footwork at the line such as Luke Lewis, Anthony Watmough and Trent Merrin but Myles believes the Maroons have a trump card up their sleeve that they have never before had access to; lone Maroons debutant Aidan Guerra.
"Aidan's slotted in real well. He's a very skilful player and I'm often deceived by the size of the man for how skilful and how fast he is," said the veteran of 23 Origins who has missed just one game since making his Queensland debut in Game One, 2006.
"For a bloke to be so light on his feet at that size is fantastic and I think it's a bit of a trump for us to have someone like that in our side now. He's slotted in well and training fantastic.
"I think we've got a good balance. To have someone like Aidan there with a bit of footwork, big Joshy Papalii coming in... If their intentions are to target Matty Scott then there are some other blokes there willing to put their hand up.
"Our boys coming off the bench have got a lot of footy brains about them. Bbig 'Thumper' (Scott) is in for a big one and Chris McQueen will add a bit of spice starting, he'll be fantastic.
"I can't credit our boys enough for the way they've been at training but it doesn't mean anything if we don't come out on Wednesday and perform well."
While confident that Maroons selectors have given the home side the necessary grunt up front to create the time and space for their star-studded backline to do their thing, Myles is conscious of the threat posed by the Blues bench and their ability to disrupt a tiring defensive line.
"That's the way they've picked their bench and I think they'll be looking to Lewis and Watmough and Merrin and them blokes to be coming on and doing what they do best around the ruck and creating some havoc," said Myles.
"I think individually is the worst way to go about [defending them]. You've got to try and keep your composure as a team and try and maintain some kind of control around them guys and that's the difficult thing and why those players are so good."