Wardle expecting all-Origin cast
While four players across both teams played Origin on Wednesday night, Joe Wardle says he’s expecting they’ll all back up on Friday when the nib Newcastle Knights take on the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park.
And even if some of them can’t go around again at such short notice, then there is no shortage of able replacements.
“Melbourne is Melbourne, whoever they have playing,” the Englishman said before the team left Knights HQ to travel south on Thursday.
“So we just can’t focus on who’s going to back up and who’s doing what for them, we have to do our job and see what happens.”
Newcastle’s Dane Gagai played alongside Melbourne's Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Will Chambers for the State of Origin series opening match at Suncorp Stadium.
Regardless of team line-ups, Wardle says the most important thing for the red and blues is to execute their game plan to the letter.
“We know what we’re capable of, we just haven’t been sticking to it enough,” he said.
“They’re a great wrestling team, so obviously we have to try and combat that.”
The team has had three field sessions this week and also spent plenty of time working on how to best dominate the ruck.
The battle between Daniel Saifiti and the returning Jesse Bromwich has been touted as a big one, but as a back Wardle says his main concern is the Storm’s wealth of attacking players.
“Lets be honest, Billy Slater is one of the best fullbacks in the game,” Wardle said.
“If we let him have even a sniff at some space he’s going to run riot, so we’re going to have to be switched on with him.
“I’ll be up against Cheyse Blair, and he’s another great player.
“Then they’ve got Josh Addo-Carr on our wing, who’s just a little whippet.”
On Wednesday’s Origin opener, Wardle admits he was pleasantly surprised after experiencing the spectacle for the first time.
“Everyone goes crazy, don’t they?” he laughed.
“It’s good to see everyone get up for it and support their state.
“Obviously it was a great game to watch as well, and hopefully we can get (Dane Gagai) Gags to back up and play for us.”
In team news, the squad to take on the Storm has been trimmed down to 19, with Trent Hodkinson and Cory Denniss dropping off.
The final 17 will be announced one hour before kick off.