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One line break, 11 tackle breaks and 210 run metres.

Those are the statistics that outline how good Queensland Maroons winger Dane Gagai was in a well-beaten side in Game I of the 2017 Holden State of Origin Series.

The 26-year-old was a shining light for Queensland in their heavy 28-4 loss to NSW, putting in the hard yards from the back time and time again as he looked to get his side out of a seemingly endless amount of trouble.

Forcing Boyd in

So good was Gagai on the wing that coach Kevin Walters has decided to leave him there in a reshuffled backline, instead moving Darius Boyd out of position to the centres ahead of Game II.

It says a lot of Gagai's ability that with fullback Billy Slater returning, Walters would rather have Boyd, who has played 23 of his 27 Origins on the wing, start in a foreign position than move Gagai from the wing to the centres – a position he has started in for much of the year at club level.

It is a glowing endorsement of Gagai's five-game Origin career, but just don't tell him that.

Stern critic

His own harshest critic, Gagai still wants more from himself and said there were little aspects of his game that need improving.

"The performance in Game I did not mean much to me because we didn't get the win," the Mackay product said.

"No performance is perfect. There are still a lot of things I could have done better.

"It's hard to enjoy it when you don't win. Luckily it's a series so I have a chance to rectify that on Wednesday night.

‘Some little areas need tidying up’

"I can't just expect to go into the game and expect for it all to just happen. I need to make sure my preparation is right. I need to focus on the things I can control.

"Things like my diet, my training, sleeping and all that stuff. I need to make sure I'm doing everything right so I am ready to go come Wednesday night.

"I can't be complacent and expect it to just happen. It's about working hard and focusing on those things that could have been better in Game I. Some little areas need tidying up."

Cool under pressure

With so much on the line heading into Game II the pressure is on every one of Queensland's 17 to perform and force a decider in Suncorp Stadium's Game III.

It is why Gagai, who has always thrived at Origin level, is never comfortable when he runs out for the Maroons, even if his calm demeanour says otherwise.

"I'm never comfortable at Origin level because it is always a tough challenge playing in this jersey and arena," he said.

‘I'll always focus as hard as I can’

"There is a lot of pressure. I don't think anyone is ever comfortable.

"It all comes down to preparation. When it is time for kick-off you want to know that you have done everything you can to perform at your best. Then comes execution.

"No matter where I play, I'll always focus as hard as I can on doing the best I can in that position."  

* This article first appeared at

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