Bash Blues' forwards, says Qld legend - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bash Blues' forwards, says Qld legend

By Wayne Heming 22/05/2007 07:43:24 PM Comments (0)

Former rugby league hard man Greg Dowling says Queensland must target Blues twin pillars Willie Mason and Brent Kite in Wednesday night's State of Origin opener at Suncorp Stadium.

Dowling, who put his body on the line for Queensland in 11 Origins, said losing the aggressive Carl Webb on the eve of the game would give the Blues a "massive" mental lift which had to be countered with aggressive defence early.

Queensland selectors refused to gamble on Webb's dicey hamstring, ruling him out with 22 year-old Storm trooper Antonio Kaufusi coming into the 17-man squad.

A shattered Webb flew back to Townsville late on Tuesday to begin immediate treatment with the Cowboys.

"I didn't want to be really selfish with it, because if I did come off the field after 10 or so minutes we would be a man down and would be struggling," Webb told reporters at Townsville.

"I couldn't live with myself if I did something like that."

Queensland coach Mel Meninga said losing Webb was a "huge blow" but they could not take the risk after he still felt sore during an early morning fitness test.

"We're keen to see Carl play at some stage of the series and while he could probably have played, with the fatigue factor of Origin, it could have gone at any time," Meninga said.

Dowling called on Webb's teammates to take up the challenge of providing the punishment the Cowboys enforcer would have dished out to Mason and Kite had he played.

"They can also expose the chink in NSW by launching an all out onslaught on rookie Blues halves Jarrod Mullen and Braith Anasta," Dowling told AAP.

"They've got to zero-in on Mullen early.

"He's a rookie and he's a good footballer, don't worry.

"But I think Anasta is fragile, I always have, and there's a good opportunity there to put them to the sword.

"If they get to those two guys and put them off their game, NSW will struggle."

Mullen has only come up against Queensland and Australian halfback Johnathan Thurston once since making his debut in 2005.

He took the points on the scoreboard 22-18 against the Cowboys in round 18, 2005 and will be hoping he comes out on top again on Wednesday night.

While NSW skipper Danny Buderus played down the impact of Webb's withdrawal, Dowling said there was no doubt Queensland would miss his aura against a Blues pack that could "trot out for Australia".

"When you play against him (Webb) you know he's going to bash you, you know he's going to hit you and hit you hard, you know you're going to get punished.

"You can almost hear the sigh of relief from the NSW camp.

"It's up to the guys like Nate Myles, Neville Costigan and Dallas Johnson to step in and help Tonie Carroll sting their big guys, especially Mason and Kite.

"They may not throw the fear into the NSW forwards like Charlie Webb, they don't have his reputation, they haven't earned that yet.

"But all of them are capable of busting the Blues to pieces with Trevor Gillmeister's coaching.

"They're all great hit men, they've just got to play above themselves and that's what Origin does."

Mason ran rampant in the opening game of last year's series when the Blues jumped to a 14-0 first half lead before hanging on to win.

He had far less impact in the return game at Suncorp Stadium when Queensland upped their aggression levels and targetted him with some huge hits, forcing several turnovers and putting the Blues pack on the back foot to level the series.

"If they get into Willie and Kite they'll get a lot of loose ball and stop their go forward and things will get easier," said Dowling who always rose to the occasion at Origin.

"Willie was a tower of strength in game one last year.

"But in game two they hit him and hit and hit him and after 20 minutes, he was gone.

"If Queensland want to win the series, they have to go out and muscle-up and give it to the Blues for 80 minutes and not let up.

"It's how often the hitters can smash the big guys that knocks the confidence out of them.

"If you get hit all day, you get sick of it."

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