NSW can match up with Maroons: Bellamy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NSW can match up with Maroons: Bellamy

By Steve Jancetic 20/05/2008 06:54:57 PM Comments (0)

NSW coach Craig Bellamy says his side has the firepower to go try for try with Queensland in Wednesday night's State of Origin opener, even claiming his backline has the edge on the star-studded Maroons.

Queensland boast five current Test players in what shapes as a potent strikeforce out wide, the likes of Israel Folau, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges and Karmichael Hunt sure to ask plenty of questions of the Blues defence.

But Bellamy has backed his speed merchants to give as good as they get, and even pointed to their edge in experience as a deciding factor in Wednesday night's result.

"Everyone's going on about the Queensland backs and everyone knows how good a backline they are, but you go through our side there's a bit of talent there," Bellamy said.

"You go through (Brett) Stewart, (Jarryd) Hayne, (Anthony) Quinn and the two guys from St George in (Mark) Gasnier and (Matt) Cooper - there's certainly some talent there.

"We certainly don't think we're an inferior backline to those guys.

"I think we've got a bit more experience if anything else."

The Queensland backline has a combined 45 Test caps between it, dwarfing NSW's total of 26 of which Gasnier (15) provides more than half.

But the Blues backs have matched it with their northern counterparts in the try-scoring stakes so far this NRL season, edging out the Maroons 27 to 26.

Slippery conditions at a notoriously greasy ANZ Stadium could negate too much action for the wide players on Wednesday night, Blues skipper Danny Buderus believing the middle third of the field will pose much more of a threat than the open spaces out wide.

The Maroons are sure to rely on hooker Cameron Smith and his Melbourne teammate Billy Slater to pinch plenty of metres up the middle, and it is here that Buderus feels the Blues need to be on their game.

And with Storm coach Bellamy at the helm, there is no doubt the Blues will be ready for the two-pronged attack.

"Around the ruck they've got a pretty good nucleus of a Melbourne look about them," Buderus said on Tuesday.

"They're going to come through the middle and we except that.

"If you look at the games last year they blew us apart with dummy half running and we only had one or two players in the tackle.

"It's just about being consistent over a period of time and you need that to be 80 minutes in Origin. You can't let it be 65, 75, it has got to be an 80 minute performance in defence."

The Blues held their final training run behind closed doors at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday night, Bellamy tight-lipped on Tuesday when asked whether he would be making any late changes to his starting side.

Veteran bench forward Craig Fitzgibbon is tipped to start the match with either debutant Ben Cross or Willie Mason reverting back to the bench.

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