Kicking game to drive Blues home
"It's going dead!"
The cry came from a Blues teammate as new halfback Adam Reynolds, from 30 metres out, stabbed a kick towards the in-goal of the Novotel Pacific Bay Resort training field literally minutes into the Blues' first training run of the camp, on Wednesday afternoon.
The Steeden jagged past the try-line, popped up off its point then stopped dead perhaps a metre from the dead ball line and a metre inside the touch in goal line, drawing raucous cheers from the players riding the play or perhaps jeering the naysayer (from the volume, we'll assume it was Andrew Fifita).
Slicing kicks around during warm up in front of a few dozen players, staff and media is one thing. Doing it in front of 80,000 screaming fans and over three million TV viewers with 13 angry Maroons charging at you is quite another. But if nothing else it was a positive omen.
That precision off the boot is one of the main reason the Rabbitohs No.7 was brought in for his debut alongside a man – Sharks pivot James Maloney – he has barely met before, let alone played alongside.
As a long-time opponent, James Maloney was happy to say he is a big fan of Reynolds' kicking game.
"Kicking game is obviously very important and he's probably got one of the better quality kicking games in the NRL so hopefully we can nail that," he said.
"I think having Robbie [Farah] as an option to kick out of hooker, hopefully with a few different options there between us we can make sure we come up with the right options."
The pair's selection drew praise from long-time Blues stalwart Greg Bird.
"They've definitely been picked on form. Maloney, they're the form team in the comp at the moment the Sharks, they're going great guns," Bird said.
"It is on the back of the forward pack they've got down there but Maloney's doing a great job steering them around.
"Reynolds has been knocking on the door for a few years now and it's probably only for the experience of Mitchell Pearce that he's been left on the back burner for so long but now he's got his opportunity and we've seen what he's done for Souths. He's won big games for them, a grand final.
"I'm sure he'll lead us around, he's a good talker. We have to lay the platform for him as forwards, we can't put all the pressure on him. If we lay the platform for him he'll do his job and hopefully the result will take care of itself."
If we're talking about Blues players and kicking the ball, one thing that isn’t yet settled is who will take the kicks off the tee. Given the likely closeness of the encounter, every goal could be critical.
Reynolds has one of the best goal kicking percentages in the NRL this year and while Maloney said he'd love the chance to win an Origin with a sideline conversion, he was happy to go with the coach's wishes when it came to goal kicking.
"To be honest it's not a big thing for me. I don't really care if I don't kick," Maloney said.
"If Adam was in a situation where he didn't want the added pressure of goal kicking then I'd be happy to. I think we're better off having a couple of options there than trying to work out who's going to kick. Whichever way it goes we've just got to make sure they go over because every point's pretty vital in Origin.
"I don't know what we'll do, we'll have to wait and see."