I'll show defensive doubters: Jennings - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

I'll show defensive doubters: Jennings

By Todd Balym 27/05/2009 05:28:40 PM Comments (0)

Attacking genius Michael Jennings says he will rise to the occasion of defending Queensland's world class backline in his NSW State of Origin debut next week.

The Penrith star's defence has been the biggest question mark hovering over the 21-year-old debutant but he is confident he can mark the best big game players in the world as Queensland field an all-Australian Test team backline.

"Defensively it's a challenge, especially with the backs that Queensland have," said Jennings.

"But it's a challenge I have to take and I have to take it upon myself."

Jennings admits he almost blew his Origin chance with a poor defensive display against Cronulla two weeks ago, but he remains confident he can take on Test star Justin Hodges in a tough head-to-head battle.

"I kind of dropped off there but that happens in the game and I just personally have to pick my game up," he said.

"It's good to get a chance to play Origin and I'm grateful for that."

Nullifying Queensland's backs was among the first topics of conversation as NSW bunkered down in their intensive team camp at a luxurious mansion in Werribee.

Glenn Stewart (judiciary hearing), Paul Gallen (shoulder) and Ben Creagh (foot) all skipped Wednesday's session, however Creagh is expected to resume full training by Thursday.

Queensland's backline produced all 38 points for Australia in their Test win over New Zealand earlier this month and NSW centre Jamie Lyon confirmed stopping the all-stars was a major talking point in the Blues camp.

"Everyone is having their say about it, everyone knows how they've got a great backline and they've got internationals across the park," said Lyon.

"It's going to be a good challenge for us to see if we can shut them down."

Lyon says the biggest threat of the Queenslanders is their aerial skill with Israel Folau the best in the game overhead.

Maroons skipper Darren Lockyer has appealed for referees to penalise NSW if they attempt to block the tall winger from getting a clean jump at the ball, but Lyon says the Blues will do all they can to stop Folau from scoring in the air.

"You have to get around the ball for a start and get as many people as you can there," said Lyon.

"We've done a bit of work on it this week and we'll see what we can come up with.

"They seem to go to the players like that all the time and we have to try to stop them. They've definitely got a great strike rate at it and we'll be doing our best to stop it."

Lyon, with seven Origin games, is the veteran of the NSW backline that features rookies Jennings, James McManus and Terry Campese.

Skipper Kurt Gidley has played just four Origins, winger Jarryd Hayne five and halfback Peter Wallace only two.

While Lyon is the elder statesman, he doesn't believe the youngsters need too many words of encouragement ahead of their debuts.

"I don't think there'll be too much drama, a lot of them have played quite a few first grade games so they have the experience," said Lyon.

"Everyone is in form and that is why they got picked. A lot of the debutants will be keen as mustard to get out there as everyone across the team will be."

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