Watmough fired up by 'can't tackle' jibe - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Watmough fired up by 'can't tackle' jibe

17/06/2009 06:14:24 PM Comments (0)

Anthony Watmough has a point to prove to the critics who believe he is a liability in State of Origin football.

Recalled to the Blues side for the first time since 2005, Watmough is determined to show why he has been good enough to play for Australia yet remarkably overlooked by NSW in recent years.

The 25-year-old Manly second-rower has been among the game's best backrowers the past three seasons but unable to crack the NSW side.

He was 18th man for Origin I in Melbourne, but said it was more like "24th man" after two players had already dropped out of the side.

It was his Origin I snubbing three weeks ago that finally got the better of Watmough and he pursued answers through Manly coach Des Hasler as to why he was left out of the side.

The answer he got was simple and brutal: "You can't tackle."

"I've got an idea (why I've been overlooked)," said Watmough on Wednesday.

"I heard I can't tackle is one thing.

"But the boys in my team love me next to them ... and I wouldn't be here if I couldn't tackle.

"Des talks to me every week about my game and if my (defence) was off he would tap me on the shoulder."

Watmough is ranked ninth in the NRL for missed tackles with 48 - just ahead of Queensland's Sam Thaiday (43) as the highest rated forward but still below fellow Origin players Darren Lockyer (54), Johnathan Thurston (52) and Peter Wallace (49).

But, as Watmough rightfully points out, statistics never tell the full story.

They don't show how often his rushing defence might have shut down a tryscoring play, or forced the player to head back into the defensive line.

"Dessy is a stat man. He will go through and look at the stats, but the stats that Big League and other people give us are not the same stats we get given at training," said Watmough.

"He will take into account when you run up out of the line and if someone goes back in on the inside, that's not a missed tackle (because) you're doing something positive for the team and putting pressure on them.

"Our line speed I think is unbelievable at Manly ... we make it a goal to take as many yards off the opposition as we can.

"If there was a big drama he would tell me and get me straight away to work on it."

What area certainly doesn't need work is Watmough's attack.

With 84 tackle breaks he is the No.1 in the NRL, well ahead of Queensland's best forward Ben Hannant who has 26 tackle breaks to be ranked 86th in the league.

It is Watmough's wide-running, quick feet and deceptive ball skills that could provide NSW with an X-factor off the interchange against a tiring Queensland defence.

But it will be the "can't tackle" jibes that will fuel his desire to cement his place in the NSW side for many years to come.

"I've always thought that I was capable of playing (Origin) and I've always been ready for it," he said.

"It's been a couple of tough years I haven't got there but it's going to be good to try and stamp where I'm at and really try to cement a spot."

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