Gagai plays down Origin specialist tag

Ed Jackson
·2-min read

Dane Gagai doesn't buy into the suggestion a Queensland State of Origin jersey makes him a better rugby league player.

On Wednesday the Maroons' centre once again had social media, and Channel Nine commentator Phil Gould, claiming the man playing for his state is on another level to his South Sydney exploits in the NRL.

Gagai was a rock for the inexperienced Maroons' backline in Adelaide, outpointing NSW's Dally M Medallist Jack Wighton as Queensland went 1-0 up in the three-game series with an 18-14 win.

The 29-year-old has barely had a bad game in his 13 Origin appearances but believes he's gone into this year's campaign on the back of an equally consistent 2020 for the Rabbitohs.

"Everyone's going to be entitled to their opinion," Gagai said.

"I thought a few of my performances at Souths this year were pretty up there but unfortunately we didn't get to where we wanted to go, which was the grand final. That's all behind us now.

"Like I've always said, when I'm playing at Souths, all my focus is on them and now I'm in Origin camp all my focus is going to be here.

"I don't listen to any outside noise. I'll just do everything I can to prepare and not let the team down."

Brenko Lee's late scratching before game one due to a calf injury meant Gagai was moved from wing to make just his second Origin appearance in the centres.

He will remain in that position for game two and admits he was impressed by 19-year-old winger Xavier Coates on debut.

The Broncos teenager was the beneficiary when Gagai beat a Wighton tackle and sprinted clear in the second half, finishing off the move when Gagai passed him the ball.

Gagai said there was a lot of similarity between the 19-year-old and former Maroons legend Greg Inglis.

"I can see the height and speed," he said.

"Actually that's the one thing I've spoken about in camp, it's pretty impressive to see a 19-year-old kid that big that can move that quick.

"I think he's about 106 kilos and he's up there with the fastest in the NRL so that's pretty impressive and he's got a long future ahead of him."