Blues brush defence fears over the border

Scott Bailey
Tyson Frizell says his role won't take on any extra emphasis given the defensive spotlight on NSW

NSW have brushed aside concerns over their defensive edges, insisting they've picked players based on their ability to shut out Queensland's attacking stars.

The Blues backline's tackling prowess has been questioned all week, most notably the ability of centres James Roberts and Latrell Mitchell to contain Greg Inglis and Will Chambers.

However figures courtesy of Fox Sports Stats reveal the Maroons have bigger issues.

Across the first 12 rounds of the season, Queensland's back five have missed 107 tackles to the Blues' 60, with Inglis the only player to have a better defensive record than his opposing man.

Blues advisor Greg Alexander says not all team selections were based purely around the speed and attacking skill of the outside backs which threaten to turn Origin on its head.

"James Roberts for instance made the team because we thought he was the best defensive right centre in NSW," Alexander told AAP.

"Jimmy didn't make the team because he scored that miraculous try against the Roosters. We knew he could run fast. He made it because he defended well."

Reminded of some of the questions raised of the Blues defence in recent weeks, Alexander was adamant.

"Some of the defensive concerns have been highlighted and it is what it is," he said.

"Players can change their defensive decisions from week to week. I'm not concerned about that."

With so much focus around the speed and pace of the Blues' backline and the traditional potency of the Maroons' out wide, defensive match ups will be more important than ever in Melbourne.

Statistically, the Blues have a significant advantage on their left edge, where Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr have missed 41 fewer tackles than opposites Will Chambers and Dane Gagai this year.

Bigger concerns are afoot slightly further in field.

James Maloney's league-high 69 misses this year are well documented and he'll have the dangerous Felise Kaufusi running at him off Ben Hunt.

The Maroons also have experience out wide where they oppose four debutant three-quarters.

The Blues had their most defence-oriented session all week at Coogee on Friday, as they ramped up preparations for the series opener.

"Defence is probably the main thing you've got to worry about in Origin," second-rower Tyson Frizell said.

"Not many points are leaked and any scoring opportunity is quite vital in those games. Our focus will be on that today and hopefully we can do it quite well."

Frizell will defend alongside rookies Nathan Cleary, Roberts and Trbojevic but he insisted he wouldn't need to go above and beyond as a bodyguard despite what others may think.

"I think it is a bit over-hyped," he said.

"Just because their attack is so potent, they do a good job.

"As back-rower you're always trying to do you best to look after your edge. I'll be doing that on Wednesday, I'll be trying to look after my half and also the people outside me."