McGuire's plan to counter big Blues bench
A leaner and meaner Josh McGuire believes that the reduction in interchanges will not only help to counter the massive Blues bench but give the Maroons a decided advantage in Game One of the Holden State of Origin Series at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night.
With 350 kilograms of prime Blues beef sitting on the bench in the form of James Tamou, David Klemmer and Andrew Fifita Queensland are under no illusions about where they will be targeted but are confident their more mobile forwards will counter size with skill.
In anticipation of having just eight interchanges in 2016 McGuire stripped five kilograms from his frame during his rehab from his Achilles tendon injury and believes it has contributed significantly to his strong start to the season with the Broncos.
Averaging 152 metres from 56 minutes per game with Brisbane, McGuire said that Queensland coach Kevin Walters has put some plans in place for any perceived mismatch in physical dimensions with the New South Wales pack.
"It's no secret that I'm not the biggest front-rower out there so I try and make people work hard and use my feet so it's definitely something I'll be doing and it will be a good battle of the styles," McGuire said ahead of his third Origin match for the Maroons.
"Kevvie has given me a role that he wants me to do. I'm a different football player to David [Klemmer]. He's 6-foot-5 and 120 kilos and I'm 5'11" and 103 so there's a big difference.
"In saying that, I do obviously want to come on and make an impact but the way I play is a different style to his.
"Kevvie has got something in store for me that he wants me to do and I'm looking forward to it, especially with these new rules with the stop clock and the eight interchanges.
"I think that plays into my game a bit more with the speed around the ruck and the change of direction which is something that I like to do."
Given their bench forwards are giving up an average of 10 kilograms per man to their Blues counterparts Queensland will play an up-tempo game through the middle of the field in order to establish ruck dominance.
At the back-end of each half momentum will be critical to the final result and Queensland five-eighth Johnathan Thurston implored his bench to make sure that they meet whatever the Blues throw at them head on.
"It's no secret they're coming through our front door with the pack that they've picked and the bench that they've picked," said Thurston, who will play an incredible 34th consecutive Origin match on Wednesday night.
"You need a strong bench and both benches are extremely strong.
"They have a very important role to play when they come onto the field and that's about changing the momentum of the game.
"That's their role and when they get on there they need to do that."
McGuire missed Queensland's record-breaking Game Three win last year due to his Achilles injury but said he comes into camp in 2016 more sure of what to expect with two games under his belt.
A Kangaroos Test representative earlier this month, McGuire is confident that his leaner frame will enable him to fully utilise the skills of Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith around the ruck area.
"I feel a lot fitter this year again. I'm a lot lighter this year so I'm feeling pretty good and pretty excited about the opportunity of playing some fast footy and playing off 'Coops', 'JT' and 'Smithy'," McGuire said.
"It's just the way I play footy, I like to play up in the line and quicker footy so I'm excited about it.
"As long as we can play good up-tempo footy I think that will work for us.
"Origin is a whole other beast. The speed of it is different, it's a constant line speed and wrestle and contact.
"There's not that lapse in the third or fourth tackle that you can get in NRL sometimes and at that level everyone's a great defender and a great attacker so you don't get an opportunity to find an easy target or an easy hole to run into.
"It's hard work from the get-go."