Ahead of Friday's #NRL game between Penrith Panthers and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, writer Rob C...
5 hours ago
Queensland officials are paying little heed to NSW coach Phil Gould's public concerns over his side's poor preparation for State of Origin II.
Gould hasn't been backward in coming forward with his uneasiness about the Blues' lead-up to the second game at Telstra Stadium, claiming he can smell a loss.
"All I am saying is that our preparation this time is not a patch on game one," Gould said.
"It's been a struggle of a camp. We have had a number of injuries. They (the players) had a big week last week. We have had several players that are not training at all.
"I don't think the sessions we have had have been that good."
NSW captain Andrew Johns (calf) has been one of the players struggling with injury and has finished several training sessions early. His absence has caused Gould plenty of headaches.
"When he pulls out of sessions that deteriorates the quality of the session," Gould told Channel Nine.
Craig Fitzgibbon (eye), Jamie Lyon (hamstring) and Jason Ryles (shoulder) also came into camp under injury clouds and were restricted at training last week.
Fitzgibbon is the only player understood to be any chance of missing Origin II, although he has given himself the all clear and expects to take part in the sell-out match.
Even so, Blues selectors have called Manly captain Steve Menzies into camp as insurance.
The Queenslanders certainly expect the Blues to field their original squad, with manager Chris Close claiming nothing emanating from the NSW camp came as a shock to him.
"Nothing surprises me, nothing surprises me at all," Close said, when told of Gould's concerns.
The Maroons have their own problems.
Fullback Darren Lockyer is struggling with an ankle injury, but is certain to play on Wednesday night despite being restricted in his movement.
"We're doing everything in our powers to make sure our team is prepared right," Close said.
The Maroons will need a big match from Lockyer if they're to square the series on Wednesday.
NSW will head into the match as clear favourites after their impressive 25-12 win in game one, but Gould has dismissed the tag and branded the match an even money bet.
"Before Origin I NSW was a joke and a farce," Gould said on Channel Nine.