'Can't afford that': Cam Smith exposes Maroons' State of Origin flaw

·4-min read
QLD great Cam Smith is pictured right and the defeated Maroons players from Game I on the left.
QLD great Cam Smith says the Maroons' disjointed preparations contributed to their heavy defeat. Pic: Getty

Rugby league great Cam Smith has pinpointed Queensland's disjointed State of Origin preparation as a key reason why they crashed to a record-breaking defeat to New South Wales in Wednesday night's series opener in Townsville.

Maroons coach Paul Green and some of the Maroons players past and present were left questioning the teams's methods after the Maroons suffered their biggest defeat in State of Origin history.

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The rampant Blues - inspired by a hat-trick from man-of-the-match Tom Trbojevic - piled on eight tries in the 50-6 mauling.

Green conceded after the match that he'd have to go back to the drawing board, with Smith claiming the Maroons' problems started in Origin camp, where multiple players were battling injuries and illness.

With Kalyn Ponga an early camp casualty, Cameron Munster, Harry Grant and AJ Brimson nursing injuries and Dane Gagai battling tonsillitis it meant the squad didn't train as a complete group until Sunday.

Seen here, Cameron Munster in action for the Maroons during State of Origin.
Cameron Munster was one of several Maroons players under injury clouds before Game I. Pic: Getty

"Obviously to rock up and play like we did tonight, we've got a few things wrong," Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans admitted after the match.

"Not just the execution tonight but probably in the way we prepared, so we've got a bit of time to think about it and the right people to fix it."

Smith - whose 42 games for Queensland is the most of any player to represent the Maroons - said they simply "can't afford" to make the same mistakes going into Game II at Suncorp Stadium in just over two weeks.

“There’s going to be some big calls made to get the correct line-up to match the Blues in Game II,” he told Andrew Voss on 1170 SEN radio.

“I think what needs to happen, and I’m very hopeful of this, is that for Game II we need to pick players that are fit, that aren’t carrying injuries into the match and they need to have a solid preparation.

“For Game I — and this is no excuse at all — but for Game I they had players that couldn’t take the field for training sessions early in the camp. They missed two or three training sessions early and could only take part in those team sessions late in the camp.

“They just can’t afford that for Game II. They need to have 17 fit players to have a really solid preparation leading into that game.”

Back to the drawing board for Maroons

Maroons coach Green admitted he would assess his own methods as part of a rigorous post-mortem before the sides meet again in Brisbane on June 27.

"It's a new group in some respects, a new coach so what I might have let go through the week in terms of execution I may not have if I'd had a bit more experience with them," he said.

"It's about learning from it and making sure we don't let it happen again."

Green was disappointed the side looked for shortcuts after the Blues' hot start.

"Once we felt uncomfortable in that position we tried to sort of trick our way out of it, which you can't do in Origin," he said.

"Where we needed to just tighten up and fight a bit harder we looked for an easy way out."

No state has won a series 3-0 since Queensland in 2010, which is something Cherry-Evans can hang on to.

"It's going to have to be the way we look at it," he said.

"Tonight's damage was pretty big, but it's only 1-0 and it's two games to go.

"We can turn the tide but they have a lot of momentum in their corner so we have a lot of work to do."

with AAP

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