Harrison backs Lockyer to blunt Bird - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Harrison backs Lockyer to blunt Bird

Wayne Heming 22/05/2011 06:37:29 PM Comments (0)

Workaholic lock Ashley Harrison says Queensland skipper Darren Lockyer is prepared for another Greg Bird bashing in Wednesday night's State of Origin opener.

The Suncorp Stadium faithful are set to give Lockyer a massive reception when leads Queensland out in his 34th Origin, equalling former great Allan Langer's all-time Origin appearance record in the process.

But Bird, the powerful NSW utility with a reputation for bruising defence, will also be keen to give Lockyer a big welcome on the field in a bid to disrupt the Queensland veteran.

Harrison, playing in his 10th Origin for the Maroons, says Lockyer is unlikely to be fazed however considering the experience he has of 12 Origin series since 1998.

Of Bird's five Origins, three have been against Queensland teams featuring Lockyer, with the Maroons skipper emerging victorious in two of those occasions.

But the Gold Coast utility had a moral victory over Lockyer in game three of the 2007 series with a man-of-the-match performance in NSW's 18-4 win at Suncorp Stadium.

"I'm pretty sure that will be his role," said Harrison who celebrated his his 30th birthday in Maroon camp last Wednesday.

"Someone has to do it and he seems to be the one who puts his hand up most years to fill that role and I've got no doubt he'll be doing his best put Lockyer off his game again.

"But I'm sure Locky knows it's coming and will be ready for it."

It's often said Bird is "made for Origin" because of his toughness.

"You often see it written blokes are made for Origin footy," said Harrison, one the unsung heroes of Queensland's five straight series streak.

"I guess it's a combination of things, being able to play at that very high standard for 80 minutes. It's about the passion you show, toughness, it can be a number of things."

While Bird has built his reputation on intimidation and toughness, Harrison said his Titans teammate was a lot more than just a punishing defender and had the ability to bust open the Maroons with his size and strength..

"He does lots of things really well and he can be a massive threat us, he has been in the past," warned Harrison.

Queensland have declared their intention to carry out their own examination of Dragons rookie Jamie Soward and to also pressure young halfback Mitchell Pearce, who has played only three Origins.

But Harrison said Soward was an extremely difficult player to "get at" the way he played so deep.

Harrison, Nate Myles, Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday will be doing their best to rattle the Blues' 14th halves pairing in 19 Origins.

"Soward defends two in so he's a bit harder to get at and I think him and Pearce swap around a bit," said Harrison.

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