Big Mal still learning the Origin ropes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Big Mal still learning the Origin ropes

By Laine Clark 12/06/2008 10:07:39 AM Comments (0)

After an amazing 34-game playing career for the Maroons, Queensland great Mal Meninga knows a thing or two about Origin. But Meninga reckons he is still learning.

Stung by the fallout over Queensland's 18-10 Origin I loss, Meninga had to go back to the drawing board for their must win clash at Suncorp Stadium on .

But you don't become a Queensland legend by repeating your mistakes - and Meninga came up trumps on Wednesday.

After witnessing Queensland's record-equalling 30-0 rout of NSW that squared the Origin series, Meninga revealed he had made a hash of game one.

"I put my hand up, we made some tactical mistakes, positionally as well, I am like the players - you accept criticism," he said.

"But you get on and try and improve. You learn from your mistakes and hope the decisions you make the second time around are better ones."

Indeed everything Meninga touched turned to gold.

And not just on Wednesday.

Meninga said the whole build-up had to be reassessed in the fall out of their Origin I debacle.

"It was a fantastic week with the team, after game one we were obviously disappointed with our efforts," he said.

"The team responded really well to the criticism of game one and the disappointment and came up with a fantastic performance tonight."

Maroons skipper Cameron Smith agreed.

"Our preparation was more intense. Last game we probably went under the radar a little bit, with our preparation," he said.

"We went down to the Gold Coast early and prepared down there with not much happening.

"But (this time) we stayed up in Brissy and trained in front of big crowds and did a lot of promotions so we knew it was a big game for us.

"And you could tell by the start of the game (the difference). The Blues smashed us up in the first game.

"But tonight we got on the front foot and never took the foot off the pedal, it was a great turnaround from game one."

While confident of turning it around, even Meninga was surprised by Wednesday's shut out.

"As a coach you never expect that, but I knew mentally we were right to go, they had a pretty good mindset," he said.

Meninga described it as a "near perfect" footy game - but Smith said they could improve.

"We had a few errors. But it was one of the more dominant efforts I have been a part of in Origin - to keep a Blues team to zero is a great effort," he said.

Smith said Queensland was keen to "twist the knife" and keep the Blues scoreless.

"Coming into the game that wasn't our mindset but as the game progressed that was one of our challenges and we achieved it," he said.

"You don't want to give them a cheap try at the end especially when you have played 65, 70 minutes of pretty good footy."

The special night was capped by an appearance by long serving former Queensland manager Dick "Tosser" Turner.

Turner - who is gravely ill - was named manager of Queensland's Team of the Century on Wednesday night.

"It was great when Tosser came into the shed, you could hear a pin drop," Maroons centre Brent Tate said tonight of the man dubbed "the Godfather of Origin".

"He's obviously doing it pretty tough, but those moments are really special for the players."

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