Meninga: Fast start essential
Mal Meninga says it is business as usual for the Maroons as his side look to target a fast start in tomorrow night's Origin opener at Suncorp Stadium.
Speaking in front of a packed media gallery while his side undertook their last training run inside the cauldron, the Maroons' coach has his sights set on an improved start from Game One last year which saw Queensland trailing 14-0 at half-time, a match they eventually lost 14-6.
The key to a swift start and avoiding a Blues ambush is, according to Meninga, a simple one: attitude.
"We were outplayed last year in Game One at Sydney. That's something that we obviously need to improve on and we talked about even last year during that series," Meninga said.
"You ask any footy coach or any player that plays in the NRL – it's all about their starts and we're no different [to that].
"That's the thing about Origin – it's no different to playing NRL footy when you talk about structures and the ways of doing things. There is just more passion [in Origin] and it provides an environment where you need to tough it out.
"So it comes down to the person and their attitudes as opposed to their ability."
Having won the past eight series in a row, Meninga accepted that complacency had the potential to become an issue within his side, however, the 32-game Origin veteran has been satisfied with the Queensland's preparation for Game One.
"I've been very happy with our preparation. I think the players have been really good as far as attitude is concerned. I'm [also] very happy with the quality of our training and very happy with the way the group has come together.
"We've addressed [complacency] earlier in the week and I haven’t seen any signs of that at all."
Meninga also dismissed the idea that the spectacle surrounding Origin's 100th game tomorrow night had the potential to distract his players.
"That's an external factor. We've got to play well and the outcome is celebrating milestones in our game particularly if we are successful but we've got a job to do first," he said.
"Our concentration is on those little things we need to get right to make sure we play well."
Another factor that the Maroons will be dealing with is the unpredictably of rookie NSW halves pairing Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson. While Origin debuts are never easy, the Queensland coach is expecting the Bulldogs' pairing to translate their club form into the Origin arena tomorrow night.
"They're form players and they play for one of the better clubs in the competition at the moment… This is their opportunity and it's like anything – when you get an opportunity you've got to try and grab it and they'll be trying to grab it tomorrow and our job is to make it a very uncomfortable night for them," he said.
"We (Queensland) understand what it takes to play Origin footy and those two young fellas are yet to experience it so we'll see what happens."