Qld favourites as Blues enjoy quiet life - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Qld favourites as Blues enjoy quiet life

01/06/2009 11:06:32 AM Comments (0)

Queensland coach Mal Meninga says the Maroons are trying to ignore the fact they have been made State of Origin favourites as they prepare for Wednesday's series opener at Etihad Stadium.

Queensland and NSW completed their final public appearances at a fan breakfast in Melbourne's Federation Square on Monday, with Meninga telling the crowd the Maroons were settled ahead of the game in two days.

"There's been a few things we've had to talk about like favouritism and winning four in a row," Meninga said.

"So we're just trying to put that in the back of our minds and just get involved in the game and make sure come Wednesday night we are prepared to go.

"The boys are pretty relaxed and can't wait for Wednesday night.

"We need to do all the little things right. We have to start really well and be fairly aggressive with the way we play."

A few hundred fans turned out to welcome the players on a chilly winter morning, with the Storm players in the Queensland team receiving the greatest applause as the squads were presented on stage.

NSW coach Craig Bellamy, the Melbourne mentor, received the best reception among the Blues team and said his side's preparation was on-track despite losing two players to injury and suspension from the original 17-man squad.

Despite having seven rookies, and two late call-ups in Luke Lewis and Anthony Laffranchi, Bellamy can't fault the preparation of his Blues.

"I have seen improvement in every training session they've had," Bellamy said.

"They were pretty quiet the first training session but they've worked really hard to get to know each other well and I couldn't be happier with the training we've put in.

"We just need to fine tune a couple of things in the next couple of sessions and I'm sure we'll be ready to go on Wednesday."

Bellamy said that NSW spending the first week of their camp at a mansion in Werribee, half an hour out of Melbourne and away from the media spotlight, had been "a big plus" for the Blues.

"Last year we were based at Coogee and every time the players were in their down-time they'd poke their heads outside and there was a microphone or camera stuck in their face," he said.

"Down at Werribee there was only the monkeys or the lions (from the nearby zoo) to have a look at, so it was good."

The Blues will continue their preparation with a training session at Visy Park later on Monday while the Maroons have a day off before their final hitout at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

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