Brent Tate is considering his future after another injury. Photo: Anthony Johnson Greg Bird and Cameron Smith square off in game two. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Queensland will need fresh faces in game three of the State of Origin campaign as injuries continue to savage key players but Cameron Smith says it would be “outrageous” to start from scratch after losing their first series in nine years.
The Maroons will need a replacement for winger Brent Tate, who will require a fourth knee reconstruction in seven years after tearing his ACL. The 32-year-old may well have played his final game after an injury that cast an even more dour mood over the Queensland dressing rooms.
It caps off a miserable series for Tate, a popular player within the Maroons who was the subject of unwarranted attacks in the wake of game one for expressing his fears over being lifted in the air by Blues halfback Josh Reynolds.
He returned to Townsville on crutches and said he was considering his future in the game given the latest injury setback.
“There’s a whole heap of emotions at the moment,” the 32-year-old said. “It’s time to take a big, deep breath and see where we end up from here, I guess.
“I’ve done my ACL again so it will be a knee reconstruction which I’m not really looking forward to. I’ll just take a couple of days now to digest it all a little bit and see what the outcome is from the scans, see exactly how bad it all is.
“It’s all pretty raw at the moment and the disappointment is pretty big.”
And influential prop Matt Scott, who played only 20 minutes of game two, required surgery on a cheekbone fracture and will also be sidelined for game three. His departure may bring Broncos prop Josh McGuire into the frame but Smith rejected suggestions it was time for a makeover of the team.
The Maroons are coming off the greatest era in Origin history but with Smith, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston and Justin Hodges all on the wrong side of 30, the regeneration process must start sooner rather than later.
A number of players, including Dave Taylor and Matt Gillett, failed to cover themselves in glory at ANZ Stadium, with fresh questions being asked about Taylor after a loose pass in the second half that was the start of a concerted NSW assault on the Maroons line.
Gillett was guilty of some loose carries as well, while Chris McQueen was unable to keep the handle on a pass as he filled in as a makeshift winger. Queensland completed just 71 per cent of their sets to go with 29 missed tackles (NSW missed 13).
But Smith said it wasn’t the time to throw the baby out with the bathwater and this squad could still beat NSW despite coming up perilously short in both contests so far.
“To lose a series in the last nine years then all of a sudden want to break up the side is outrageous,” Smith said.
“We still believe we’ve got a great footy side. Two games have been decided by four points and two points. It’s that close. It could have gone either way, in both games. I don’t feel any need to change the team at all.”
Meninga was quick to back up his skipper.
“We won’t be doing that,” he said.