Winger Wesser fine for Origin: Meninga - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Winger Wesser fine for Origin: Meninga

By John Salvado 27/06/2006 08:07:44 PM Comments (0)

Queensland coach Mal Meninga has no concerns with Penrith flyer Rhys Wesser playing out of position on the wing in next week's State of Origin decider.

Wesser has been recalled to the Maroons squad for the first time in two years after centre Justin Hodges succumbed to hamstring and knee injuries.

The reshuffle saw Hodges' Brisbane NRL teammate Brent Tate shifted into the centres.

With in-form Clinton Schifcofske already recalled at fullback after a four-year Origin absence, regular Panthers custodian Wesser claimed the vacant wing berth.

Both teams have arrived in Melbourne to begin preparations for the sold-out July 5 clash at Telstra Dome, with Meninga saying the Maroons had little choice but to pick Wesser on the wing once Hodges was ruled out.

"(Wesser) deserves an opportunity in the side, he's been knocking on the door for quite a while," said Meninga.

"With the glut of fullbacks, Clinton is probably the form fullback of the competition at the moment.

"Rhys won't let us down.

"We'll work pretty hard with him on the wing during the week and I'm quite certain he'll come up in the game.

"He has exceptional speed, he's strong and he's very good out of dummy-half.

"He's good on the high ball and defensively he's pretty robust as well so I think he'll do a fantastic job on the wing for us."

Wesser's only previous Origin experience came when he played all three games of the 2004 series, which the Maroons lost 2-1.

Queensland has been spoilt for choice at fullback in the last two seasons, with Melbourne's Billy Slater, North Queensland's Matt Bowen, Brisbane youngster Karmichael Hunt and now Schifcofske all preferred to Wesser in the No.1 jersey.

So Wesser was delighted just to again get the call-up from Queensland, regardless of the position.

"I'm happy to play wing, it's pretty much the same position as fullback," he said.

"It has been a bit of a struggle (getting back into the Queensland team).

"I didn't have the greatest time when I was there and hopefully I can redeem myself and come back into the side and have a good game."

The Maroons arrived in Melbourne without bullocking forward Petero Civoniceva, who is recovering from a virus.

He will rejoin the squad in the next couple of days.

"It's precautionary, obviously we didn't want to expose him to the team," said Meninga.

"We want Petero to get well soon and the rest is going to do him well leading up the game."

Civoniceva's Brisbane teammate, experienced forward Tonie Carroll, is also set to play despite being knocked out against Manly last weekend.

With Queensland facing the possibility of an unprecedented fourth straight series defeat, Meninga was grateful to accept any small advantage, such as the decision to play the decider in Melbourne rather than the Blues' heartland.

"It's better than Sydney for us," he acknowledged.

"There's no doubt, and I'm not going to hide from the fact that it's better for us being here than in Sydney in front of their parochial crowd.

"We're hoping that's to our advantage."

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