Woods warns of Glasby impact
Queensland's response to NSW's dominance through the middle in Origin I was there for all to see when coach Kevin Walters named his team for Game Two and Blues prop Aaron Woods has warned underrated Storm prop Tim Glasby will be a key man on Wednesday night as the Maroons look to slow down the Blues in the wrestle.
Glasby's selection was attacked in a Daily Telegraph back page based purely on his stats, which is not only a misleading and shallow way of attempting to gauge at a player's contribution but was also a move which upset the Blues camp as much – if not more – than the Maroons and Storm.
But while Glasby's raw numbers – 25 tackles per game at a 95 per cent effective rate and an average of 88 metres from 42 minutes of game time per week – are more than serviceable, they do not capture the value he adds to the Storm.
The 28-year-old is an effective wrestler in the ruck and frequently puts ball-carriers on their back while finding his own front more often than not when hitting the ball up.
His average play-the-ball speed of 3.38 seconds is better than five of the eight Blues forwards; Andrew Fifita (3.35), Jake Trbojevic (3.26) and Josh Jackson (3.19) are only slightly ahead.
He has improved as the season has gone on; he was promoted from the Melbourne bench to a starting role a month ago and over the past two weeks has kept Blues and Kangaroos squad member Jordan McLean out of the run-on side.
Woods, whose Wests Tigers lost to Glasby's Storm in Round 4, was under no illusions that bringing in a form prop from the team leading the comp would make the Maroons stronger.
"I don't really go off stats too much. You look at his play-the-balls, his play-the-ball speed is really good," Woods said.
"He's also got a really good hit and bump where he drops to the ground and finds all fours, finds his front.
"He has got a little pass in him as well. I think he just tightens up the middle. You've got someone like Jesse Bromwich who does the carrying. Big Jordan McLean too. Once [Glasby] gets on, he creates that steel in the middle.
"Playing against him, he's a really good wrestler. He just slows that ruck down completely.
"I haven't played with him but he could be a really good talker on the field. He gets everyone in their positions, little things like that. They're the things that go unnoticed when it comes to stats.
"Just his effectiveness as well. Where he makes his tackles and how he slows it down."
Woods said most games are won up front with energy through the middle, as the Blues did in Origin I, though Woods believed most of the Maroons pack played strongly – particularly in the early salvos. However the other new faces would also boost Queensland's chances.
"They brought in [Jarrod] Wallace, he's been playing some really good footy this year and getting a lot of metres as well with the ball.
"[Josh Papalii] will stiffen up the middle once he gets on off the bench, he'll add a lot of go-forward. That's what he's done the last couple of years.
"[Coen Hess] is a really good young player. I'm not too sure how much time he's going to get but I'm sure they'll go to him a lot. He's really good on the edge.
"He's got really good feet and strength, leg speed – sort of like Fifita, they can do things other blokes can't do."
The Blues like to play an up-tempo game and there is a concern the Maroons will get away with slowing down the ruck in Origin Two. Woods called on the referees to officiate in the manner they did three weeks ago, when both the quality of the refereeing and the quality of the contest drew universal praise with very few penalties or stoppages.
"There wasn't much wrestling in the first game, it was that quick, it was very physical," Woods said.
"[I'd ask] just ref the same as they did in the first game. I spoke to a lot of people who said it was the best game they've seen in a long time, if not ever. The first half, that was one of the quickest games I've ever played so I hope they stick to the same systems."