Lockyer is hungry, says Meninga - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer is hungry, says Meninga

By Wayne Heming 02/06/2009 11:36:16 PM Comments (0)

Queensland State of Origin coach Mal Meninga has warned NSW his champion skipper Darren Lockyer is hungrier than ever for success after being sidelined for the entire 2008 series.

Meninga described Lockyer as "one of the best that's ever played the game" as he prepares to head the Maroons quest for a history-making fourth successive Origin series.

Asked if he was glad to have his 32-year-old star play maker and leader back in Maroon for his 28th Origin, Meninga said: "I think he's hungrier after missing last year with injury".

Meninga said he hadn't noticed any changes in Lockyer since he last played for Queensland.

"He's always been at a level above most in the competition on a weekly basis," said Meninga who played 32 games and scored a record 161 points for Queensland.

"He makes really good decisions in pressure situations which is why everyone touts him as one of the best that's ever played the game.

"It won't be any different come Wednesday night.

"He's been running the ball a lot more than in the past with the Broncos under a new coach and hopefully he'll do the same for us on Wednesday night."

Meninga expects the Blues to hit Queensland with an up-tempo game directing runners down the right side at Lockyer and game-shy centre Justin Hodges, whose fitness is questionable after being sidelined with a hamstring injury since scoring two tries for Australia in their May 8 Test win over New Zealand.

NSW attempted to turn up the heat on Hodges on Tuesday, suggesting the Queensland centre who took a pot shot at young Blues rookie centre Michael Jennings last week, had his own defensive deficiencies this season which they would exploit on game night.

"They'll be targeting our right side, they'll be trying to target Darren (Lockyer) there's no doubt about that and Hodgo is around that space," said Meninga.

"It's part of the modern game to try to wear out the key players.

"I think the Blues strategy tomorrow night would be to target our right hand side."

There's speculation NSW coach Craig Bellamy will change his starting pack with Dragons rookies Michael Weyman and Justin Poore both under consideration for a starting spot.

Meninga though wasn't interested.

"I don't know and I don't care," he said.

Meninga may pull his own late switch with Karmichael Hunt starting at fullback ahead of Melbourne's Billy Slater - a tactic used successfully last year.

"I'm anticipating (Slater will start) ... but we'll see what happens in the next 24 hours," he said with a smile.

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