The National, Tuesday, May 24, 2011
BRISBANE: IT’S a personal thing, it’s called hatred and the NSW State of Origin side admit they finally have it by the truckload.
Blues hardman Greg Bird candidly revealed as much yesterday, saying he and his team-mates have had enough of five straight series losses and watching the confidence ooze from Queensland.
The passionate comments are sure to send tensions soaring ahead of Origin I at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow.
“The way I’ve thought about it is over the years when NSW were so dominant Queenslanders sort of developed this hatred for NSW because they were always on the losing side,” the Titans forward said.
“I think a lot of New South Welshman have started to develop that over the last couple of years because we’ve been consistently in the losing side.
“I think there’ll be a lot more NSW passion this time.
“We are the underdogs, we’re not just saying we’re the underdogs like Queensland have done for so many years.
“We have to go out there, get stuck in and bring it back.”
Bird radically departed from the Blues script, which has emphasised the “process” they hope to bring to their game, unashamedly declaring he sees the series as more than a game.
“I think every Origin’s personal,” he said.
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“They’re going out to take what we think is rightfully ours.
"It’s worse than last year because we’ve lost five in a row and we need to turn the tide."
A ferocious opening of bone-rattling collisions is the likely result, and Bird said they were a necessary part of gaining the ascendancy in Origin football.
"The collisions early on are definitely important but I think the overall 80-minute performance is going to be what wins us the game," he said.
"Collisions are what lift players.
"When we go out there and we see Kade Snowden run hard and run over someone, that lifts blokes around him to do the same thing and it gives a team momentum which creates the 80-minute performance."
The Blues’ approach will come from the top down with tough captain Paul Gallen set to lead by example.
Experienced centre Mark Gasnier said Gallen would lose none of his renowned mongrel because of the leadership role.
"I think that’s why he became captain of Origin," Gasnier said.
"Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s Origin football.
"He’s a tough competitor, so are a lot of them. It’s what it’s about and everyone respects it, as long as everyone knows not to cross that line."
The Blues will take five debutants to Origin’s spiritual home, the Old Lang Park.
Gasnier said nothing would put the fire in the belly of his team-mates more than a series opener in front of 52,000 Maroons supporters.
"It’s an atmosphere that, while you may look upon it as daunting, it’s quite motivating," he said.
"I think it’s good for (debutants) to have their first Origin at Suncorp.
"It’s going to make them really appreciate (game two in) Sydney, first and foremost.
"All the hype leading up to the week of people telling them what Origin’s about, I think it will just confirm that for them."
The Blues will have their final training session at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday.