Missed tackles may have been highlighted but Johnathan Thurston says his poor goal kicking hurt the most in Queensland’s Origin I loss.
Of all the damning statistics that faced Johnathan Thurston in the wake of Queensland’s State of Origin game one loss, one hurt the most for the Maroons playmaker.
And it wasn’t missed tackles.
Much has been made of Thurston’s defensive effort – or lack thereof – against the Blues after being successfully targeted by NSW strike weapon Jarryd Hayne.
Sure, Thurston was hurting from six missed tackles – two leading to NSW’s only tries – in game one after being left black and blue by a flying Hayne.
However, Thurston was kicking himself after missing two crucial conversion attempts in NSW’s 12-8 win.
“That can be the difference between winning and losing,” Thurston said.
“I have had a couple of weeks where I have been shocking with the boot but I have been working extremely hard.
“What’s disappointing is when you put so much effort into it and there’s little reward.
“But I am confident if I keep working hard hopefully I will bang a few more over.”
Thurston said he would work on goal kicking extras in the lead-up to Origin II on Wednesday night.
“I just need to make sure my routine is the same and striking the ball where I need to,” he said.
Critics may also suggest Thurston should hit the tackle bags at their Gold Coast camp after missing a total of 16 tackles in his past three games against Hayne, including NRL games.
Starting backrower Chris McQueen and reserve Ben Te’o have been identified as “bodyguards” for Thurston in defence but Queensland teammate Matt Gillett said the star pivot did not need any help.
“Not at all, he’s been around long enough, it is one of those things – I don’t think it was his fault.
“It’s an Origin game and stats like that get blown out of proportion.
“He will be fine. He will get it right at training this week and will make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Then again, Gillett admitted few could stop 2009 Dally M Medal winner Hayne in his current form.
“Once he gets in that form and is doing whatever he wants out there it is hard to get your hands on him, hard to get that dominant tackle,” he said.
“He’s a big fullback and quick on his feet too. He’s hard to control. We’ve just got to do a better job on him.”
Easier said than done – just ask Thurston.
Meanwhile, D-Day looms for Queensland’s injured stars Daly Cherry-Evans (knee) and Greg Inglis (ankle) after Billy Slater (shoulder) all but received the green light to take the field from coach Mal Meninga.
It is believed Cherry-Evans and Inglis will need to take part in an opposed session against the Queensland Under 18 team on Sunday to be considered for Origin II.
The Maroons have a day off on Saturday.