Fireworks tipped as forwards see red over tough talk
The scene is set for an explosive Holden State of Origin series opener with Queensland Maroons assistant coach Josh Hannay predicting fireworks and warning NSW prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard that he will have to "live with what he said".
Campbell-Gillard said last week that he was looking forward to "killing some blokes" in the Maroons outfit and the comment has not been lost on the Queensland forwards who intend to test whether the NSW forward's bite is a big as his bark at the MCG on Wednesday night.
"He has to live with what he said," Hannay warned when asked about the Penrith prop's pre-game boast.
"Our guys just want to go out there and work as a unit and do their job. What Reagan does is up to Reagan.
"I think there could be [fireworks]. There has been some chat from south of the border and we have certainly got some firebrands in our forward pack.
"I'd be surprised if there wasn't some real physical contests out there tonight that may well erupt."
Maroons prop Dylan Napa is expected to be on a mission to unsettle the new Blues pack with some of his trademark whacks in the middle.
"Dylan is a really intimidating and physical type of front-rower. He is a big body in the middle and loves these occasions," Hannay said.
"He loves the ferocity of State of Origin and it will bring out the best in him I have no doubt about that."
Meanwhile Hannay confirmed that winger Dane Gagai would play after dislocating a finger in the captain's run on Tuesday.
"Dane suffered that finger injury yesterday during the captain's run but this morning he has woken up fine and he's fit to play," Hannay said.
"He came back out on the field yesterday and completed the session and got a lot of confidence out of that, so he is raring to go."
Hannay said Gagai would likely need an injection to play through the pain and would be a target for the Blues, along with the rest of the Maroons side.
"Dane has got a sore finger so it is not the end of the world," Hannay said.
Hannay said Michael Morgan was ready for the extra workload that playing fullback will require and pointed to the fact the Maroons had other potential fullbacks – Cameron Munster and Valentine Holmes for instance – that could slot back in the custodian role during the game if need be.
"We have all the faith in the world that Michael will do a hell of a job back there for us," Hannay said.
Hannay, a star goal kicker in his day for the Cowboys and Maroons, also said he had faith in the capacity of Holmes to step up and handle the goal kicking duties.
"I wasn't aware of how good a goal kicker he is but he strikes the ball as well as anyone I have seen and tonight will be all about handling the pressure," he said.
The Maroons will be 1-17 as finalised on Tuesday with Morgan at fullback, Cameron Munster and Ben Hunt in the halves and Anthony Milford to play from the bench.
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here.