Tamou ready to shift gears
With the NSW pack reshuffled for Origin II to accommodate the return of Greg Bird from suspension at the expense of Tony Williams, prop James Tamou says his move back to the bench will require him to bring a whole new mindset to the contest.
"Mate it does change my preparation a fair bit, coming off the bench," Tamou told NRL.com.
"Loz [Blues coach Laurie Daley], when he told me he said we'd pushed T-Rex out and were going to need some grunt coming off the bench and I said mate, I'm more than happy to play that role, I'm just happy to be here."
Tamou said that watching the frantic opening salvos from the benches completely changes his way of looking at a game.
"Because I'd be starting I'd be energetic in the warm up, my energy levels would be at their highest getting ready for kicking off but now coming off the bench I'll have to take a step back and help out the boys that are starting and go through the motions until my name gets called out to run on about 20 minutes in, and I'll get ready and be prepared for a tough game."
But with Origin being such a furious and relentless 80-minute contest compared to regular NRL games, being able to maintain that momentum for the second 20 minutes when the big men start to tire and the interchanges enter the fray is arguably just as important as winning the vital opening stanza.
"It is important and Loz said that as well, he said Queensland will be coming the whole 80 minutes, we can't just have a good start for 20 minutes," Tamou said.
"He said he wanted me to come on and up the boys a bit and go up a gear and take them on. It'll be the same for the boys that have just come off, they'll have a rest and they'll have to come back on and up the ante again because Queensland will be up for the whole 80 minutes."
Tamou added Queensland would be loving being able to reclaim the underdog status, going into Wednesday’s away game one-nil down and with key players either missing through injury or under an injury cloud. These include Josh Papalii (ankle), Corey Parker (facial fractures) and Cooper Cronk (broken arm) already ruled out and Daly Cherry-Evans (knee) still in doubt, although Greg Inglis (ankle) and Billy Slater (shoulder) have shaken off their injury concerns.
It was completely different heading into Game I, with Blues stars Boyd Cordner (ankle), Andrew Fifita (ankle) and Greg Bird (suspension) rubbed out, while planning was also disrupted when incumbent half Mitchell Pearce got himself on the wrong side of the coach after a night out in Kings Cross. It all meant the Blues went up to Suncorp having already been written off by all and sundry, and Tamou said he loved the criticism being hurled at the team from north of the border.
"Game One? I enjoyed it. No-one gave us a hope, all the odds were against us, I enjoyed that, I thrived on it," Tamou said.
"I think Queensland will be doing exactly the same. But the thing for us, that first game, Greg Bird, he was stinging. In the warm up you could see him licking his licks wishing he could be on there but he'll get his chance second time around and he'll be ready to go, he'll have a really big impact for us. We all know how well he goes around Origin time. Hopefully he'll play the whole 80 and he'll give us 80 minutes of quality football."
Tamou said Queensland would similarly benefit from the return of key back rower Sam Thaiday, who missed Game I with a calf injury.
"He does [bring a lot to their team], we've already looked at stuff about him. He'll run the ball and try and find his knees or try and find his front. It's up to us to try and stop that go forward," Tamou said.
"They'll get a quick play the ball and play off that. It's up to us in the middle to slow them down and stop them getting the ball out wide. The game will be won or lost in the middle.
"They'll be looking for Matt Scott to take the first charge and it'll be up to us to stop him. They'll be looking for him all game to try and set up that platform and obviously if they get over us there they'll have early ball out wide."