No more superlatives for classy Cordner
Fresh from leading the NSW Blues to a commanding 28-4 victory in the State of Origin series opener on Wednesday night, Sydney Roosters co-captain Boyd Cordner stepped up once more with a man-of-the-match performance to guide his side to a gutsy 18-16 win over a star-studded Broncos side at Allianz Stadium.
The Origin period is so taxing that representative stars either miss games or play reduced minutes when they return to club footy, but that wasn't the case on Saturday as Cordner punched out 80 minutes and scored two crucial tries to help the Tricolours move into the Telstra Premiership top four.
Less than 72 hours after the energy-sapping Origin I win at Suncorp Stadium in which he didn't miss a minute, Cordner scored a try to break the deadlock just before the break and then gave his side some breathing space with a gut-busting chase that few people in his position would have bothered with.
"The week that he's had, and then to go and play 80 minutes again – it's hard when he's sitting right next to you – but he needs to be lauded for what he did out there tonight," Roosters coach Trent Robinson said after the game.
"He broke open the game to score that try in the first half and then [scored again] to take it away to that 12-point lead in the second half.
"It's through the little efforts to kick-chase; it's not a carry that someone sees all the time. It's a kick-chase that usually ends up in having to make a tackle on somebody that not everybody notices. If you end up there enough like he does, you'll end up with the ball in your hands.
"It's just an incredible performance – what a week!"
His try on the stroke of half-time was somewhat reminiscent of Mitchell Pearce's effort for the Blues on Wednesday night, although Cordner wasn't having a bar of it when asked to compare the two scoring plays.
Instead, the humbly-spoken co-captain praised his teammates for their desperation in defence for the first 70 minutes, adding the Origin contingent were keen to repay their comrades with a strong showing just days after Wednesday's brutal encounter.
"We pride ourselves on backing up. We played a tough game of Origin but we want to turn up for the boys here because this is where we invest all our time and this is our home," Cordner said.
"To tell you the truth, I don't find it too difficult [to back up].
"Mentally I thought I was really good today. With the game on Wednesday night and how it went, I thought it was a really physical game so I wasn't at 100 per cent physically, but mentally I was sweet. I think that's what got me through tonight.
"It might sound a bit weird, but I actually don't mind backing up. Sometimes you find through the game that physically it's easier. I don't know how that works, but I don't mind it.
"To tell you the truth, I wouldn't have minded playing last night. I think it's because you're really calm going into the game because you're not thinking about it all week and you don't have to spend all that nervous energy worrying about the plays or the opposition as much, so you just go in with a clear head."
Robinson flirted with the idea pre-game to give his skipper a spell at some stage, but given the tight nature of the contest, he knew it would be impossible to drag the 24-year-old off Allianz Stadium even if he wanted to.
Cordner had every right to ask for a breather, but according to Roosters teammate – and Queensland foe – Aidan Guerra, he was always going to produce something special.
"He was never that guy [to make excuses]. He was always going to have a big one tonight," Guerra said.
"It's the players that continue to do that that build a legacy of their own. In the past, you look at the players that are legends of Origin, they're the ones that come back and do well. Boyd's sort of creating that legacy of his own.
"He's a player that plays every week – or twice this week – at 100 per cent so you come to expect that of him and that's why he's our captain and the captain of his state.
"He's a good friend of mine and you always want to see your mates go well. Unfortunately on Wednesday night it was at mine and Queensland's expense, but once we come back here, there's nothing in it."