Jennings gets defensive over defence - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Jennings gets defensive over defence

By Steve Jancetic 05/07/2010 03:24:08 PM Comments (0)

NSW centre Michael Jennings says he has no beef with selectors over his Origin snubbing, but critics questioning his supposed defensive deficiencies is another matter.

Recalled by the Blues for Wednesday night's series finale after being surprisingly overlooked for the opening two games of the series, Jennings claims his defence is more than up to the task of containing Queensland duo Willie Tonga and Israel Folau.

While admitting he had some issues earlier in the year, Jennings said his performances with Penrith in the NRL and for NSW last year prove he is not a liability in the defensive line.

"It's all talk," Jennings said of the perception he is a poor defender.

"It was something I did need to work on a bit but it's not a major factor - I needed to do work on it and I have and it's not a problem any more.

"I've been there and done it (at Origin level) so it's not going to be something new to me.

"I just want to do what I do for Penrith for NSW."

And doing just that would make him a statistically better defender than Maroons centres Tonga and Test star Greg Inglis.

So far this year Jennings has missed just 2.2 tackles per game, better than both Tonga (2.6) and Inglis (3).

It's not that Jennings shirks his defensive duties either, making more tackles per game (13.7) than the duo on the other side of the field, who both average just 11.5 tackles.

Having excelled in NSW's Origin III win last year and earning his first Australian jersey on the end of season Four Nations tour, it was widely anticipated Jennings would be one of the first picked for this year's Origin opener.

When he wasn't the 22-year-old did his best to concentrate on his job at Penrith, even though a knee injury left him unable to train on a regular basis.

His speed and spark suffered as a result, which was never more evident than in the round 11 clash against Canterbury when he was run down by Bulldogs opposite Josh Morris despite being given a fair start.

"I wasn't fazed about it, I wanted to do my best for Penrith and wanted to perform well for them and hopefully get a call-up to play here (for NSW) again," Jennings said of his Origin omission.

"I feel excited, I'm grateful to get the opportunity.

"I was disappointed to miss out the first two games but it's good to be back representing my state."

And the knee injury, like his Origin disappointment, is also a thing of the past.

"There was a tear there but as the weeks went on it slowly went away and wasn't bothering me any more," Jennings said.

"Getting surgery on it wasn't an option any more, it healed itself, it's all sweet."

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