THERE has been plenty of mud-slinging ahead of State of Origin Game 2, but the time has come for players, coaches and fans to put their money where their mouths are.
The New South Wales Blues ($2.20 at Sportsbet.com.au) narrowly lost by a point at ANZ Stadium in Game 1 and despite a great individual performance from NSW star Josh Dugan, the Blues struggled as a unit in the game’s biggest moments.
Dugan cared little for the personal praise and was focused on leveling the series and defending the 2014 series win.
“Personal accolades for me is the bottom of the list,” Dugan said.
“I might have played good but we lost the game and that’s the thing that hurt most and that’s the thing we have to rectify.”
Dugan hobbled away from the Dragons clash against the Bulldogs with a minor hip injury, but he remains upbeat about being fully healthy come Wednesday.
“Yeah it’s ok, got a bit of physio yesterday, I’ve been on the ice, it’s pulled up better today, I’ll get through the session today and back on the ice,” he said.
Dugan isn’t the only Blues player nursing an injury, the vocal Robbie Farah has overcome a serious shoulder injury and is “strapped and ready to go,” according to Dugan.
Dugan also had to defend questions about the inclusion of motivational leader Paul Gallen, after Phil Gould publically stated that the 34-year-old should move on.
“[Gallen] is an inspirational leader and he’s someone that won’t let anyone down,” Dugan said.
“I think he’ll prove how old he is on Wednesday, he’ll probably be one of our best players like he is nearly every Origin.
“He’ll go for as long as he can and as long as he’s playing great footy and putting the performances on the board I don’t see why he can’t be there.”
The Queensland Maroons ($1.62 at CrownBet.com.au) will be without Cooper Cronk for the second straight game, but Dugan is more focused on his side and not what the opposition fields.
“We’re pretty confident without even worrying about their team, we put ourselves in a position to win that game and we lost it ourselves,” Dugan said.
“We should have probably won that game. Again, decision making under fatigue and a few errors out of our end gifted them some good ball.
“It’s a must-win game for us and that’s the mentality we have to take into every session. We spoke about that yesterday and I think all the boys have bought into it.
“We’ve got to use that as motivation. It was heartbreaking to lose by one point when we put ourselves in a position to win. We have to go out there and not let the game slip again.”
Slater risking Storm future for Maroons
Origin 2 could well be Billy Slater’s last game this season as the fullback is battling a serious shoulder injury.
Triple M’s Ben Dobbin said that the Melbourne star will play Game 2 on his home soil at the MCG, but the Origin clash will likely be his last this season.
“Slater will play game two of State of Origin this year but it could be his last game of the season,” Dobbin said.
“His shoulder is absolutely no good.
“If he makes it through Game 2 I don’t believe that he will take his place at the Melbourne Storm for the remainder of the season.
“If I was Laurie Daley and the coaching staff, who would you be targeting front and centre? Billy Slater.”
Josh Dugan made comment about using dirty tactics to the Blues advantage.
“We didn’t do it in Game One [with dirty tactics] and we nearly won Game One so I don’t think we need to buy into it at all.”
Slater is currently paying $2.40 to score a try in State of Origin Game 2, but teammates Will Chambers ($2.30 at CrownBet) and Greg Inglis ($2.30) could be better options, given the injury news.
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