Hagan expects Blues bomb blitz

Queensland assistant coach Michael Hagan is backing the Maroons' back three of Billy Slater, Darius Boyd and Brent Tate to cope with the expected aerial bombardment from rookie Blues' halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson.

With Boyd struggling to find form at club level with the Knights and Cowboys centre Tate not accustomed to playing on the wing of late, it's anticipated the Blues will use the high ball as a potent attacking weapon to take advantage of the athleticism and aerial prowess of Brett Morris and Daniel Tupou.

The Maroons' coaching staff only needs to watch replays of a flying Morris scoring for the Dragons in Round 3 against the Sharks and Tupou's try against Manly in last year's grand final to realise the enormity of task facing Slater, Boyd and Tate.

While Slater and Boyd deal with the high ball on a weekly basis and rarely make mistakes in doing so, Tate came to the rescue for the Maroons in Origin last year when NSW peppered him with the a series of rainmakers, with the 32-year-old Cowboy flawlessly defusing each bomb.

For Game One, Tate's job has been made all that more difficult given he will be giving away almost 10 centimetres of height to towering Rooster Tupou.

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"We probably expect them to target our back three across the board," Hagan said.  "Brent Tate copped a bit of a barrage last year so we don't expect that to change. They've got Tupou on that side so it would be fair to say that's a good reason for them [to put up the high ball]."

"[Tate] has been great for us the past couple of years. He's an experienced player and I'm sure he'll rise to the challenge."
Hagan is also crediting a change to the Maroons' training structure which he says has help freshen up a Queensland side which features seven players over the age 30. The Maroons have only been hitting the training paddock every second day, helping them to manage the workload of their aging stars.

"Recovery is such a big part of our game and we understand [that] we've got some older players we need to look after so I think Mal and the staff has done a good job in that regard," he said.

"I think the players have also bought into that as well. They know we've only got a certain amount of sessions in the week to get done and they've got to be of a high standard [so] the week has been very good from that point of view.

"Last year in Game Three was all about recovery because the players had played so much footy and the Origin series takes so much out of the players so hopefully we get the balance right and we've done enough work to get out there with a good performance."