Blues bashers look to repeat effort on Thurston
The Blues forwards successfully got under the skin of Maroons star Johnathan Thurston in their Game Two win in Melbourne, according to Thurston's Cowboys teammate James Tamou, with a warning that the Queensland lynchpin can expect more of the same in Wednesday's series decider.
Thurston was repeatedly hit hard as he passed or kicked with Blues bench back-rower Boyd Cordner going out of his way to give Thurston a tough night.
Tamou said the Blues forward "really got to him", adding "I hope that sticks in his head [in Game Three]," vowing to heap the pressure on Thurston again.
Despite the extra attention Thurston was among the best players on the field from either team in Origin II, though it wasn't enough to stop the Blues levelling the series.
In a mark of his toughness Thurston backed up just three days later for the Cowboys, booting a match-winning field goal in the dying seconds despite his ribs and shoulders getting another working-over from Canberra hitmen Sia Soliola and Josh Papalii.
It finally forced him to miss a game the following week to rest a series of bumps and bruises (a factor in his side's 11-game winning streak coming to an end) and Tamou says his clubmate will be out to make amends after being put off his game by the Blues at the MCG.
It was evident late in the game when a huge – but legal – shot from Thurston as he kicked on the last tackle in the 73rd minute caused the playmaker to stay down for some time.
At the back end of Queensland's following set, Blues hooker Robbie Farah rushed up on Thurston who uncharacteristically kicked out on the full as the pressure began to tell.
"I think he will be out to makes amends. I remember one time in Game Two he kicked the ball out on the full and that is very uncharacteristic of him and I think we were getting to him," Tamou said.
"One time there Boyd Cordner flattened him and I think that really got to him. And I hope that sticks in his head and reminds him and he takes that into game three, so that gets him off this game as well."
Tamou said the Blues were "too passive" in their Game One loss and had taken the Maroons by surprise with their fresh aggressive intent in Melbourne.
"It was our duty to match them I guess in Game Two and I think there were surprised. We will be taking the exact same attitude into Game Three. That is the winning formula.
"We will absolutely do that again [target Thurston]. Some of the things he did, that's just not him, whether he flinched or in his mind he thought someone was coming at him I'm not sure but we will just have to do it again and hopefully he makes the same mistakes."
Cordner smiles when reminded of his successful efforts to target the Maroons' most important player.
"He still played a really good game and that goes to show the class of the bloke," Cordner said.
"It just goes to show you can limit his chances and his opportunities how you go about the game, and we did do those things very well. We have to try and bring that spark again."
Cordner agreed the Blues did a better job in Game Two of playing the style of game they wanted to play.
"There were a few areas in game one we were lacking that we addressed in Game Two and in Melbourne we executed our game plan really well.
"A lot we did right [but] we will have to do a lot better in Game Three because we know what it takes to play Queensland up there."