Papalii promises to pack more punch in Origin III
Inspired by a visit by new world champion Jeff Horn on Friday, noted boxing fan Josh Papalii has promised to pack more of a punch in the Holden State of Origin decider on Wednesday night, conceding that he was dominated by the Blues pack in Game Two.
One of the most powerful runners in the Telstra Premiership, Papalii is not one to be sat on his backside too often but he was unable to dent the New South Wales defence in the manner we have become accustomed.
Demoted to the bench in the wake of the 28-4 loss in Game One Papalii made 99 metres from nine carries in 32 minutes in Game Two in Sydney but had just the solitary tackle break, a long way shy of the three tackle breaks he averages per game in the NRL.
Admitting he gives away plenty in size to the likes of Blues' big men Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods and David Klemmer, Papalii has vowed to play smarter in order to get the Maroons onto the front foot.
"Look I'm not the biggest guy in the State of Origin arena so I've got to try and be smarter," said Papalii, who will play his ninth Origin for Queensland on Wednesday night.
"I just had a bad game in Game Two. Every time I was running I was getting sort of dominated there, especially after the kick-offs and drop-outs as well.
"Personally I was a bit disappointed with my performance. Looking at the class players in this team, they got us home especially winning off the back of Johnno's (Johnathan Thurston's) boot to get us home.
"I've got to try and bring some energy off the bench. That's my goal but I've also got to play my game.
"I have to be smarter the way I use my energy, whether that's line speed or taking another carry for the boys, setting up a play, or something like that."
Papalii and his brother John were encouraged to take up boxing by their father and with cousin Alex Leapai a heavyweight boxer who stepped into the ring with Wladimir Klitchschko to fight for the world title in 2014.
As such, he was a captivated spectator for Horn's bout with Manny Pacquaio last Sunday and said he could draw inspiration from how Horn came back after looking down and out to become champion of the world.
"I watched his big fight against Manny Pacquiao and as a boxing fan I'm pretty proud to watch a Brissie boy come up through the ranks and grab a world title," Papalii said.
"He was doing it pretty tough in that ninth round and I think the referee was going to stop it there.
"But mate, the way he came out in the 10th and then 11 and 12, I reckon he did himself and his family proud."