’Wrecking ball’ Papalii can turn tide for Maroons, says Arrow

’Wrecking ball’ Papalii can turn tide for Maroons, says Arrow

The Maroons’ pack will be desperate for Papalii’s experience. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Queensland warhorse Jai Arrow insists the Maroons can spring a stunning upset on NSW in Brisbane and it is the return of “wrecking ball” prop Josh Papalii that has him believing the State of Origin series will go to a decider.

The Maroons were massacred 50-6 in Origin I in Townsville and were way off the pace. A repeat performance will be punished just as severely by NSW, but Papalii missed the Origin opener through suspension and has rediscovered his mojo after earlier taking what he called a “mental break” to recharge his batteries.

The injection of 18-game Origin veteran Papalii, who was dominant in Canberra’s big 38-16 win over the Broncos last week, has Rabbitohs lock Arrow believing a giant comeback can be achieved at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday week.

“Big Paps has the experience in that Origin arena and you know when you just look at him next to you that he is a wrecking ball who will do his job,” Arrow said.

“He runs so hard and people aren’t fond of running straight at him. Paps will hit you like a train and he is a great asset to our Origin side, and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him he is the man you want next to you in the defensive line.

“Not long ago he was the best front-rower in the comp, and he still can be. He had a little break to find himself, but it was just great to see him back in form last week for Canberra. He scored a try and had that mullet flowing in the breeze. It will be good to have him back.”

’Wrecking ball’ Papalii can turn tide for Maroons, says Arrow

Arrow (R) has played eight games for Queensland. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

All Papalii has to do to take his place in the Maroons side is come through Canberra’s Saturday night’s clash with St George Illawarra unscathed.

Arrow scoffed at suggestions the Maroons were already dead ducks and pointed to last year’s series as proof that they can turn the tables on the Blues and keep the series alive. Under Wayne Bennett in 2020, the Maroons won the decider 20-14 after getting towelled up in Game Two.

“Absolutely we can turn it around,” Arrow said.

“In Game Two last year they came out and blasted us off the park (34-10). In Game Three, we were ready for it and turned it all around. I don’t see why we can’t turn it around at Suncorp, like we did last year. That is the plan and I am sure we will do that.

“In the first game up in Townsville, we got beaten everywhere across the park. We can’t take anything away from them because they all did their job, but this time we will be ready.

“The first game didn’t show it but it is just great to play with the best, and the forwards we have in Queensland are second to none.”

Arrow will enter Maroons camp on Monday fit and firing. He suffered a rib injury in the first half in Townsville but returned to the fray in the second stanza. He then sat out South Sydney’s round 14 win over Newcastle but returned with style in the 46-0 win over his former club, making 150m from 18 tough carries.

He said the rib was fine after the win over Brisbane, an injury he sustained in the Origin clash with club teammate and Origin enemy Damien Cook.

“I think I landed on Cooky’s boot,” Arrow grinned.

“It didn’t puncture my rib but I had a bit of tenderness there. I got a needle at half-time. I didn’t have a scan on it because I don’t think there is a break, but it is starting to feel all good now. I will be fine.”

After the Storm and Panthers put 50 points on the Rabbitohs, the players, at the urging of coach Wayne Bennett, made a pact that paid off against the Broncos

It is why Arrow will enter camp on a high after South’s stellar club form.

“We’ve let in fifty points twice this year and there has been talk about us having defensive lapses, so the most rewarding thing for us was keeping Brisbane to zero, and to play tremendous footy along the way,” Arrow said.

“Scoring points is not our problem. Now we have all just got a massive defensive mindset, and that showed. We all turned up for each other and that is all you can ask for as teammates.

“It was good to get back to Queensland for my first game after Origin and win like that. I thought our spine was tremendous and even better we had Blake Taaffe on debut. It is great to share a special moment with a young kid like that on their NRL debut in front of their friends and family.”

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