Hagan expects forward battle in the wet - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hagan expects forward battle in the wet

By Wayne Heming 26/05/2010 01:20:24 PM Comments (0)

Queensland assistant coach Michael Hagan says wet conditions at Sydney's ANZ Stadium mean Wednesday night's opening State of Origin game could be won either by a stroke of genius or a simple error.

With heavy showers forecast, the clash is expected to be played in very difficult wet and slippery conditions taking away a lot of the attacking flair from both sides and turning the contest into a grinding, forwards-oriented struggle.

"It could come down to a special play or a loose ball or a big tackle," said Hagan on Wednesday.

"It will be a slower game. They'll try and slow us down at the ruck which they like to do to stop the attacking brilliance of guys like Greg Inglis and Israel Folau.

"The conditions will mean it's going to be a pretty tight game up the middle third."

While the Queensland team is known for it's backline brilliance, Hagan was confident their forwards could match the big Blues pack.

"We've got Petero (Civoniceva), who wasn't there in game three last year, Dave Taylor, who is going well, Dave Shillington who's impressed me with the way he's gone about his work this week and Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday with Ashley Harrison, so we're well equipped for whatever happens."

Hagan said Melbourne Storm rookie and bench utility Cooper Cronk's great understanding with fullback Billy Slater would add value when he joined the game.

He did not think the Blues strong win in the dead rubber game 3 last year counted for much anymore.

"The pressure is always on in game one," said Hagan.

"It's fine to talk about game three last year but that won't mean a lot when you're 20 or 30 minutes into the series and blokes are out on their feet.

"Queensland have got players who understand what is required in those first few games.

"If you're not good in the first or certainly the first two games, the series is on the line pretty quickly.

"We've got a good attitude. (Coach) Mal (Meninga) has reinforced to the players what it means to get out of the blocks quickly in game one and we know what's coming with the aggressive team they've picked."

The Queensland players went on team walk through the streets of Parramatta on Wednesday morning before returning to their hotel to prepare for the game.

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