She’ll be right, Maroons have been here before: Papalii

Queensland's State of Origin dynasty is staring defeat in the face, but a typically laid-back J..

Queensland's State of Origin dynasty is staring defeat in the face, but a typically laid-back Josh Papalii declares "we'll be right".

A holy trinity of Maroons legends have retired, they're 1-0 down to the NSW Blues and an injury cloud has been circling the team in camp this week, but Papalii was confident because they've been in this situation before.

In a further confidence boost for the Queenslanders, Australia coach Mal Meninga declared the Queensland enforcer is in career-best form ahead of the must-win Origin II.

Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii says the Maroons have been in this position before.

Photo: AAP

Papalii's the most experienced Queensland forward with 10 Origin appearances and was one of the Maroons' best in Origin I, when he provided impact off the bench.

Queensland have largely been written off, with some predicting the Blues to produce a series clean sweep – despite the Maroons winning 11 of the last 12 series.


Confidence is high in a young Blues team that convincingly won game one 22-12, with Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk all retiring from the representative stage and Billy Slater (hamstring) and Dylan Napa (ankle) both having injury-interrupted preparations.

But try to tell the Queensland camp that.

Papalii comes into Origin II boosted by re-signing for the Canberra Raiders for the next four years.

"Obviously last week I didn't want to talk about Origin or anything, I really wanted to focus on the Green Machine," he said.

"I had a really good week for myself and re-signed for another four years, something I'm very proud of. Hopefully do a job [on] Sunday and deliver for the Queensland people.

"Queensland's been in this situation before. I think we'll be right. All the boys are pretty buzzed up and ready to go."

He's been immense for the Green Machine over their last five games when he's averaged 152.2 run metres and 27.8 tackles per game, had two try assists, 14 tackle busts and scored a try – all without a single error.

Meninga left Papalii out of his Kangaroos World Cup squad last year, but the Raiders legend felt the 26-year-old was in the form of his life.

Papalii's played nine Tests for Australia and added another four for Samoa at the World Cup.

"I'm pretty comfortable with the make-up of the Queensland side. They've certainly got the ability and hopefully the desire to take it to 1-all," Meninga said.

"Josh's last six weeks or so has been the best of his career and well done to him.

"Even his impact off the bench for the Maroons in the first game was outstanding I thought."

Papalii starred coming off the bench and playing through the middle for Queensland in Origin I.

He's been playing big minutes at lock for the Raiders in the NRL, but can also play on the edge in the second row.

But Papalii was unconcerned where he lined up for Origin II.

"Wherever. It doesn't bother me. As long as I've got a jersey on my back, hopefully do a job for the team," he said.

Meninga said Papalii could start in the middle for game two, but felt the impact he provided off the bench was when he was at his most dangerous.

It's how Meninga's used him both when he was the Maroons coach and now in his current role in charge of the Australian team.

Mal Meninga says Josh Papalii is in career-best form.

Photo: AAP

"Papa's got a good motor on him, he can play long minutes. No.13 suits him – he's on-ball all the time, he's in the middle of the park, he's a big body, loves defence and his running ability is one of the best in the competition," Meninga said.

"I like him on the bench in that arrangement, because you need a bit of impact off the bench and I think he provides that for the Queensland team.

"He certainly can start and make an impact there too, but of all the players in the team, him and Coen Hess would be great value coming off the bench."


Sunday: NSW Blues v Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium, 7.40pm. Live on Channel Nine.


Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, 7.35pm. Live on Fox League.

David Polkinghorne

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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