Blues' hitman Frizell switches focus to Thurston
Powerful NSW back-rower Tyson Frizell went into Origin I with a mandate to make life hard for debutant Maroons playmaker Anthony Milford but this Wednesday night he has a much different task marking up on Milford's replacement in future Immortal Johnathan Thurston.
Frizell's mooted wrecking mission on Milford ended up being something of a non-event in Game One as the Blues pack as a whole ran riot regardless of who was marking up on them in a heavy 28-4 win. Milford looked dangerous with ball in hand and threatened to step past Frizell's edge partner Mitch Pearce on a few occasions.
Thurston will be a different proposition entirely; he is the most dominant halfback of his generation with every option at his disposal and takes the ball right to the line before forcing defenders to commit in order to pull out the perfect option to create attacking chances for his team.
Frizell said it was no secret that as the back-rower opposite Thurston it will be his job to target the Cowboys legend when the Blues have the ball, but he knows he will have his work cut out for him when it comes to NSW's time to defend as well.
"I guess whoever's in that role I'll probably be going after," the softly-spoken 25-year-old shrugged when asked about his task to target the Maroons halves.
"It's the role of a back-rower, you want to target the halves, you want to target where they're vulnerable I guess."
Thurston offers so much in attack it's hard to find a weakness while the North Queensland maestro has the ball in his hand, according to Frizell, who said he won't be going out of his way to get at Thurston.
"He's on the side that I'm playing and I guess their back-rowers will be doing the same to our halves so it doesn't really matter," he said.
"[Defensively] it does make it difficult for a back-rower coming up against him. As much as you want to be helping people on the outside of you, you can't be giving 'JT' a step or even a sniff of taking your inside shoulder so it's going to be pretty dangerous for myself and for our edge. Having him back in their side is only going to do wonders for their players.
"You can't stiffen up too much. When a player like that comes at you you've got to stay relaxed, you've got your options whether to go in on him or hold your nerve and go out.
"You don't want to be so concentrated on him you lose focus on what's going to happen or if you take yourself out of play he might play a ball off his hip and you open up a gap. You want to stay as relaxed as possible when you're playing a guy like that."
Frizell also spoke about his painful rib injury which he has dismissed as nothing more than an inconvenience that will not hamper him come Wednesday night.
"It's sweet to go, it's all right. It's just an ongoing thing. There's not anything you can really do about it," he said.
The Dragons enforcer said he do "a little bit" of contact work at training and will require a painkilling injection about 15 minutes before warm-up on Wednesday night to get through the game but it will be no different to a club game.
Frizell laughed off suggestions he may be targeted by the Maroons by carrying a painful injury into the game.
"I'm not a gun player, I'm not a guy they need to target to get a win on us boys but so be it, if they think a weakness in our team is me," he smiled.
"It's up to them whether they want to [target it], it doesn't affect me at all in the game so if they think I'm a target in that sense, it's better for me. I wouldn't be going into the game if I was going to be touch and go. I'm sweet."