Here is the proof that physicality is not dead in rugby league with Queensland enforcer Jaydn Su’A promising to bring the heavy hits into Wednesday night’s State of Origin series opener in Townsville.
Su’A was one of the NRL’s first players penalised in the high contact crackdown, when he was sin-binned in South Sydney’s victory over Cronulla at Magic Round when his shoulder clipped Aaron Woods on the jaw with a front-on tackle.
Rather than retreat into his shell, he produced an absolute belter of a tackle on Wade Graham five minutes into the second half with a rib-crunching textbook hit that wouldn’t look out of place on any tackling highlights reel from recent years.
The the 23-year-old second-rower said Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett had specifically spoken to him about his tackling technique prior to Magic Round in Brisbane and the simple warning had not detracted from his style at all, just forced him to adjust his target.
"Just go a bit lower," Su’A said.
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"Before that Magic Round we all knew it was going to be a bit different. Wayne told me be careful and try to get your contact zone a bit lower.
"Obviously that didn’t happen and I got sent off, I got in to the sheds and he just said bend your back a little bit more and you should be sweet. I was able to come out and pull off one of those hits.
"I guess people are a bit more wary and a bit more careful but those hits can still be a big part of our game and the crowd love to see it so I don’t think it will change.
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"Origin is played on a lot of emotion so I don’t think it will be any different.
"If there is a few send-off there is a few, I don’t think it will change anything."
While both camps have flagged the prospect of chatting to the referees’ boss Jared Maxwell prior to the clash at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Su’A said the Maroons hadn’t bothered training with reduced numbers on the field in case the sin bin was used on Wednesday.
"I feel like club footy sometimes those scenarios happen but you don’t really need to coach for that at Origin. You just need to bring everyone together and we play our game," he said.
Queensland's primary defensive focus will be to put Blues halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai under as much pressure as possible with the Panthers duo yet to lose a game this season.
Maroons centre Kurt Capewell, who plays alongside the pair at Penrith, said Cleary had overcome last year’s disappointment of the Panthers grand final loss and Origin series defeat to end 2020.
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"Nath would’ve been a little bit filthy but he came back and held his head high and trained hard and has been ripping in ever since," Capewell said.
"Nathan and Jarome are pretty hard to handle, Nathan’s kicking game and Romey’s ad-lib style of footy is pretty tough. We’ve got a job on our hands to try to shut them down for sure.
"It’s the perfect combination of a half that gets you around the park and has an incredible kicking game and then you’ve got an A-class player with the ad-lib ability of any first-grader I know. They’re tough to handle when they’re paired together."