Melbourne build-up a bonus for Maroons

What better way to avoid all the external noise that comes with a State of Origin series than to skip town and get away from it all?

That is precisely what Queensland have chosen to do and they are loving it according to veteran Justin Hodges.

While NSW are preparing for the must-win Game Two up at sunny Coffs Harbour the Maroons have chosen to spend the full week down in Melbourne, as they look to clinch the series at the MCG on Wednesday night.

While the scrutiny of the media is like wildfire in both Queensland and New South Wales it is a much different story in the southern state.

This different type of sporting landscape is one the Maroons have been only too happy to experience.

"Definitely, you check the papers there is not much in it down here… that's the best thing about it," Hodges said.

"There was one point in it [in Game One] so we know Game Two we are going to have to find that extra gear and that's the best thing about being down here. 

"We don't have to read too much in the papers or in the news, you can just put your head down, relax and when you need to focus, you focus. 

"I think it is a great stroke by Mal [Meninga] to come down here to get away from everything and relax."

 

Hodges did admit that his Brisbane blood had not yet warmed to the cooler mornings that Melbourne has to offer.

However he braved the conditions to take a walk around the outskirts of the MCG on Friday morning and it began to sink in what an opportunity he and his teammates will get to experience when they walk out in front of a possible 90,000-strong crowd at the venue on Wednesday night.

"Coming down here I've never played at the MCG, I think it is going to be a great spectacle to watch," Hodges said.

"To run out on such a great ground with so much history is going to be a great honour and something I'm really looking forward to and am going to remember for the rest of my life."

The Maroons have been spreading the message of rugby league around the sporting capital.

On Thursday they put on a clinic for around 200 school kids and will be conducting a fan day at Federation Square on Friday from midday.

"We are down here trying to help the game and hoping we can get a big crowd," Hodges said.

"We want to see a lot of Queenslanders come down and support us, it is going to be a big occasion, one up in the series and hopefully we close it out here."

NSW and Queensland will add another memorable chapter to this storied rivalry at the MCG when they kick off at 8pm on Wednesday night.

Video courtesy qrl.com.au