Watmough keen to axe tag as Blues’ last winner

Anthony Watmough is the only member left of the last NSW team to triumph in a State of Origin series but it is a biographical footnote he wishes had no relevance for Wednesday night.
Nanjing Night Net

”I don’t really class that as a win, that series, for myself,” the Manly and Blues back-rower said. ”I only played the one game. It’s in the record books – they can’t really take it away from me. But there is still that burning desire to get this one.”

Watmough is proud to have been associated with Ricky Stuart’s side of 2005, but he is desperate for the fading memory not to be his last taste of interstate success.

Then 21, he played in game one after starting on the bench in Brisbane – when NSW were beaten 24-20 in golden-point extra time. Although he did not appear in the second and third matches as the Blues fought back, he was officially a member of the series win.

He remembers a very different Origin experience in Stuart’s first reign compared with how new coach Laurie Daley conducts affairs.

”It was intense. It was the 25th year of Origin and the build-up to that with Ricky Stuart was ridiculous compared to how cruisy and player-driven it is now with Loz,” Watmough said. ”They’re totally different. This year it’s good.

”The players have really taken ownership. The senior players have really stepped up and they’re driving it. Loz just has to sit back and when he needs to put his two bob in, he can put his two bob in. But I think with the way it’s running now, he doesn’t need to do that. He just sits back and lets us go and lets us run our thing.”

Watmough is one of the form players in the NRL and looms as a key asset from the bench for the Blues. A player once on the outer at representative level, is now – as a 29-year-old – central to Daley’s ambitions of toppling Queensland again.

”It wasn’t pleasant getting your name tossed around a lot but I hope I’ve changed a few people’s opinions,” he said. ”You’re only one bad game away from missing out on any squad but that’s a good thing to have; that hunger and drive. The time has come with this team where we can stop their momentum.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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