Origin stars may struggle, says Green
No rest for the weary, please. That's the thought of North Queensland coach Paul Green going into the Cowboys' Monday night encounter at Newcastle following State of Origin Game Two.
The NRL action subsequent to Game One saw the northerners back up just three days later, on the Saturday against Melbourne, and if given the choice that's exactly how Green would want it again, conceding the longer wait may actually hurt them.
"I think [the longer turnaround] makes it tougher for those [Origin] guys," Green said, who welcomes Tariq Sims back into the squad after serving a two-game suspension for a dangerous throw.
"The earlier you can play within reason, the better. [The four Origin players] certainly played well for us after the last Origin game, but having a little bit longer there, a bit more soreness will set in and they might not be as good as they were last time."
Green also indicated last week's bye came at a timely moment, saying a bit of ‘freshening up' was in order after a turbulent first three months that has seen multiple players sidelined with long-term injury, multiple dramas with the video referees and wins of up to 32 points coupled with hidings just as bad.
"[The bye was about] mainly having a rest. We did a bit of training earlier in the week and then we gave them a bit of time away from the club, give them a bit of time to freshen up," he said.
"Hopefully [the bye was] good, I'll tell you after Monday night. It's a long hard year and we needed a bit of a freshen-up I think so hopefully it will be a good thing."
Transitioning into the second half of 2014, a couple of questions still loom large – can they win interstate and which No.7 will ride with superstar five-eighth Johnathan Thurston on a permanent basis?
With regards to breaking the interstate duck, Green says it is simply a matter of focus and sticking to the standards set at day one, and the results will come for one of the most talented rosters in the competition.
"It's important we get back to those standards we set. They haven't changed; it's just a matter of living up those. They probably weren't there against Parramatta, a couple of uncharacteristic errors in defence for us so I think it's important we get back to that.
"Whether it's home or away we just need to play well. We just need to play to our standards and that needs to be good wherever we play. If we defend the way we have been defending particularly in that Parramatta game, it won't matter where we play, chances are we will get beaten, so we just need to get back to our standards."
And for the time being, Green has put his faith in Ray Thompson for the halfback job ahead of his best friend Robert Lui.
"There is healthy competition between both of them. I think Ray deserves more time there," said Green, whose team currently sits two competition points outside the top eight after 14 rounds. "He did a great job before he hurt his knee and he's probably still trying to find his feet consistently there since he's hurt his knee so it helps to have that competition there."
With Sims coming back into the starting side Jason Taumalolo shifts back to the bench and Scott Bolton remains at lock forward.