Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman says the mental aspect was the toughest part of backing up in the NRL after Queensland’s State of Origin defeat.
Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman admits he found it tough to back up in the NRL three days after State of Origin II.
It wasn’t the physical challenge, but the mental one after the huge disappointment of the 6-4 loss that ended eight seasons of Queensland dominance.
But the experience hasn’t reduced his desire to be part of the series finale and help the Maroons avoid a 3-0 whitewash.
“It’s a massive honour to pull on that jersey,” Lillyman said.
“Although the series is gone, we spoke afterwards that there’s still a game to go and it would be a lot worse feeling if it was a clean sweep.”
In his seventh appearance for Queensland but his first since 2011, Lillyman came off the bench in Sydney on Wednesday night and got 19 minutes of game time.
On Saturday night, he was back in Auckland helping the Warriors to maintain their finals ambitions with a 19-10 win over Brisbane.
But while his body had pulled up well from the Origin defeat, the mental effects went deeper.
“I’ve probably replayed certain incidents from the game 100 times over in the head,” he said.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about it in the last couple of days. It was a little hard to focus [on the Broncos], but I think I switched on when I had to.”
The Warriors started slowly in a scrappy encounter, but their victory featured some resilient defence and it lifted them to within two points of the top eight.
“We weren’t at our best but, when we had to, we defended well,” Lillyman said.
“We scrambled well and came up with a few plays that got us out of trouble.”
Apart from his work up the middle, Lillyman also produced the short pass to Sebastine Ikahihifo that sparked an attack leading to Chad Townsend’s clinching try.
The match was the first of three straight for the Warriors at home, and table-topping Penrith will be the visitors next Sunday.
“We’ve got a bye in there as well and we can really use this little period as a springboard,” Lillyman said.
“If we can rack up these home wins, that will put us right in the mix.”
Lillyman was one of three Queensland representatives on deck at Mt Smart Stadium, with fellow Maroons forwards Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett starting for the Broncos.
However, Gillett lasted just 12 minutes before coming off with a shoulder injury and he will have scans on his return to Brisbane to determine the seriousness of the problem.