DCE, Slater warn Blues that Origin best is yet to come

Joel Gould |

Queensland’s Daly Cherry-Evans (centre) celebrates the 38-10 win over NSW but wants improvement.
Queensland’s Daly Cherry-Evans (centre) celebrates the 38-10 win over NSW but wants improvement.

Billy Slater and leading Queensland players were far from satisfied with the 38-10 win over NSW in the State of Origin series opener and have vowed to up the ante for the rest of the series.

The Maroons did play against 12 men for 72 minutes in Sydney after Blues centre Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii was sent off for a high shot on fullback Reece Walsh, which ruled him out of the rest of the match with concussion.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, who switched from centre to fullback when Walsh went off, scored a hat-trick and veteran hooker Ben Hunt a double in a display that had scintillating attacking passages.

Queensland had planned a lot of their attack with Walsh front and centre but didn’t get to showcase those tactics. Bench utility Selwyn Cobbo came on when Walsh went off and was a powerhouse in the centres.

Captain Daly Cherry-Evans said the side had planned to use Cobbo, Tabuai-Fidow and Walsh in a three-pronged attack on the field at the same time.

“I might not have seen it before, but when we got into camp and started to train and I saw what it looked like, it was hard not to get excited,” he said.

“We didn’t have to use that style of footy … with Reece, Hammer and Selwyn on at the same time, but it’s nice to have that up our sleeve.”

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow celebrates after one of his three tries in Origin I. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

The coach was not getting carried away with the performance.

“I thought we were so far off with our footy. That’s all to come,” Slater said.

“I don’t think we played the way we prepared. There is so much more for this footy team. That’s exciting.”

There were stages in the match where the Blues threatened to take the game to the Maroons despite them being a player down.

The next two games of the series will be played in Melbourne and Brisbane and Hunt detailed where improvements must be made.

“I think there needs to be more gears,” he said.

“We are going down to Melbourne and you wouldn’t think someone would be sent off again. It is going to be a lot harder game.

“I still think we can be better in the middle. I thought we were a bit loose in the middle. I know they only scored 10 points but that is because they had 12 players. We need to be a lot better defensively.”

Cherry-Evans had a blinder but he was not content with that either.

“There is more work to go and more improvement in us,” he said.

“I don’t know if it counts for anything if you don’t go out there and earn the next two wins. They are not going to give us anything. It is all about us. There is so much work to be done.”