Blues backs in better form: Bellamy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blues backs in better form: Bellamy

By Todd Balym 02/06/2009 03:06:24 PM Comments (0)

NSW coach Craig Bellamy is backing his new-look backline to provide major defensive headaches for Queensland's Test stars in Wednesday night's State of Origin opener.

While the Maroons field the current Australian Test backline, surprisingly statistics show the Blues backs have been in far stronger NRL form, boasting more tries, try assists and linebreaks.

Furthermore, the Blues have a far better defensive record, averaging 20 more tackles per game and five fewer missed tackles.

Queensland have attempted to put the heat on NSW rookie backs Michael Jennings, Terry Campese and James McManus with some tough talk but Bellamy insists his youngsters aren't daunted by their task.

"I think we've picked guys that are really in good form and that was our focus," said Bellamy.

"We know what (Queensland's) strengths are, it's stopping them that's the hard part."

Bellamy turned the heat back on outspoken Maroons centre Justin Hodges, who predicted Jennings would be "scared" on debut, telling the Test star to expect a rough return to football against the speedster in his first game since the Test match on May 8.

"I wouldn't say he is a focus but he is going to be marking one of the quickest players in the competition so we haven't put Michael Jennings in the team not to give him the ball every now and then," said Bellamy.

"Hopefully he can cause a little bit of angst in the opposition defence.

"He is a wonderful ball runner Michael Jennings and everyone can see what he can do so hopefully we can get the ball to him at the right times tomorrow night.

"He knows they're going to target him and going to put pressure on him because he's a young guy and it's his first game.

"He's just focussed on what he has to do and playing his role for the team."

The coach is also confident five-eighth Campese has rediscovered his golden touch in time for his debut after going off the boil for Canberra a few weeks back.

"He is in for things he can do and we want him to do them tomorrow night and he will," said Bellamy.

"We think he is back to that form ... he needs to get the mix right for our game plan."

Bellamy said the Blues were building towards a strong performance after some initial teething problems when the team first came together in camp last week.

He said with seven rookies and 17 players from 12 NRL clubs the team initially struggled with communication but they've since bonded to become great mates and a strong team.

"The first day it was deathly quiet, especially at the training session," said Bellamy.

"We had to work really hard to get to know each other and slowly but surely they've worked really hard at that.

"They're really getting on well off the field now and as they've got better at that their training has really come together.

"Every training session has been better than the one before so I'm pretty happy with the build up."

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