Green: Blues better side on paper


TOWNSVILLE: Maroons coach Paul Green has predictably grabbed State of Origin’s underdog tag, claiming New South Wales (NSW) have ‘a better team on paper’ for tonight’s series opener at Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium (8.10pm kick-off). On the eve of his first match in charge of the Maroons, the National Rugby League premiership-winning coach resorted to classic Origin mind games by heaping pressure on coach Brad Fittler’s Blues and Penrith debutants Jarome Luai and Brian To’o. While confirming AJ Brimson (knee) would take his place on the bench for game one, Green still attempted to paint of picture of Maroon struggle by lamenting Queensland’s disrupted preparation – which has included concern for Dane Gagai (tonsilitis), Cameron Munster (foot) and Harry Grant (hamstring). Asked who would head into the series as underdogs, Green said: “We are. Queensland.” Why? “Because we’ve had a pretty disrupted prep, and on paper, they’re a better team than us.” Queensland will host the first two games of the series after the NRL shifted the opening clash to Townsville after Victoria’s Covid-19 lockdown. The game was originally scheduled to be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Fittler has been at pains to say his side won’t be using the unusual venue allocation as an excuse, and Green only turned up the pressure on bookmakers’ favourites NSW when asked about rookie five-eighth Luai and To’o. When asked for an assessment of To’o under the high ball this season, Green said: “I think he’s had mixed results. That’s an area I think both of our wingers (Papua New Guinea-born) Xavier Coates and Kyle Feldt) are good (at). It’s an opportunity for us.” – SMH