'Come and get us', say scarred Blues
Tough NSW back rowers Greg Bird and Anthony Watmough have invited Queensland to target any perceived injuries the Blues carry into Origin II, saying Origin is an arena where "everyone tries to rip your head off".
Watmough tore his bicep in Game I and has been nursing a weakened and inflamed muscle since, but insists he wouldn't be playing Origin II unless he felt his body was up to the examination. Meanwhile Bird was hoping stitches under his right eye from a knock against the Panthers in Round 13 would be removed before Game II.
Watmough said he expected the Queenslanders to be pulling and tugging at his arm throughout the contest.
"It is what it is and I can't control it. There's no doubt they are going to try and pull at it and bend it and rip it off. We had that last week against the Dogs and we dealt with it then," Watmough said.
"It's one of those injuries you can't really hide it, so you have to go out there and throw it around the best you can. You look in Origin, everyone goes up another notch and everyone tries to rip your head off.
"I expect everyone and anyone to have a crack. Maybe the trainer might run on and have a crack at some stage. I'm not hiding from the fact it's there. Come and get it, it's there for the taking.
"It's been around for a long time. I'm not saying I'm the type of player that goes out there to hurt anyone intentionally or anything like that, but in this arena you expect it.
"You go into every tackle expecting your head to get ripped off. I got no doubt that if the arms are strapped up, she's going to get twisted and pulled. There's not much I can do about it."
He said he wouldn't be playing the game if he thought he would be a passenger.
"Against the Dogs the other day it hurt but it was bearable. I think that was the best part of it, just getting your head around that pain and not be timid with it. You know it's going to hurt so you just have to deal with the pain and move on and throw it around the best I can.
"At the start it was painful, but it doesn't flare up after sessions. It's just one of them things that if we didn't train and play every week, it would get better really quickly. Once the swelling and blood went... the pain just immediately went. It's a little bit weak but I have to build it up."
Bird said it wouldn't surprise anyone if the Queenslanders targeted Watmough's arm or any of the other niggles the Blues will carry into Game II, and said he was disappointed that the more gladiatorial aspects of the game are being phased out by administrators.
Bird says those tactics haven't been foreign to Queensland's preparation in the past, but it would be hypocritical of him to complain as someone who also pushes the boundaries.
Of the cut under his eye, he said it wouldn't surprise him if it gets opened up again.
"Hopefully I can protect my head but it's different to ripping someone's arm and smacking someone's face. I should be right."
He said the punches and the cheap shots are what he loves about the game.
"I wish a lot of it wasn't taken out of the game by the officials and I'm sure 98 per cent of the people watching the game would love to see that style of play brought back to the arena but the way the times are these days, these things have passed."