Jackson Returns to Familiar Edge Role
Blues back-rower Josh Jackson is looking forward to reverting to a more familiar role on the edge of field rather than in the middle as Blues captain Paul Gallen returns at lock for Origin II.
Jackson excelled in the position in the City-Country match before the Origin series but starts on an edge every week for the Bulldogs before often moving more into the middle later in the game.
Gallen said it would benefit Jackson playing a more familiar role and Jackson himself said he hoped to spend more time on the edge than he did in his 42 minutes on field in the series opener, where his attacking game was blunted, running just eight times for 53 metres with no tackle breaks while making 25 tackles – something he is looking to improve on in Game Two.
"I'll probably play a little bit more on the edge compared to in the middle like I did last time. And obviously coming off the bench is a little bit different," Jackson said of the reshuffle prompted by Gallen's return.
"That [on an edge] is where I play week in week out with the Bulldogs. I do end up in the middle a fair bit but that's where I start."
Jackson said it would be a more familiar role that would suit him better.
"Just because of the fact that I play there week in week out. In saying that [they] gave us a pretty simple game plan Game One. I probably wasn't as involved as I probably needed to be in attack."
Gallen will likely play big minutes in the middle, allowing the three back-rowers in the bench in Jackson, Trent Merrin and Boyd Cordner to hopefully get more involved in attack.
"Jack played game one in the middle of the field, he's obviously normally an edge back rower," Gallen said.
"We probably had a guy that was in a position he wasn't totally used to and that's what I am, I'm a lock forward. I come into the side, they wanted a smaller bench, that's why they didn't pick [Andrew] Fifita but that's Laurie's decision, it's got nothing to do with me. That's the way Laurie thinks we can win the game, probably a bit more mobility on the bench I suppose."
Jackson also said he felt more settled in camp for Origin II having got his debut game out of the way.
"It's all a little bit familiar now, everyone knows the plays and knows each other so I guess it's a little bit easier," Jackson said.
"I guess you know what to expect. You go into training knowing exactly what you have to do and knowing what your role is."
Earlier in the week Jackson told NRL.com he thought he did a good job of not falling into the trap of overplaying the game mentally in the week leading up to the first match.
"I didn't think it was too bad, a lot of the boys and particularly the senior players spoke a fair bit about it, not playing the game too early and not burning up too much energy before the game so there's always improvement there. Like I said the experience the last game will help me a lot there [in Game Two]."
Senior back-rowers Ryan Hoffman and Beau Scott had been great for Jackson, as had injured skipper Paul Gallen in his one-day visit to Coffs Harbour for the Origin I camp, and suspended back-rower Greg Bird, who spent most of the first camp with the team.
"All those guys have played a fair bit of Origin so you listen to them when they tell you these sort of things," he said.
He hoped that the disappointment of losing a close series opener 11-10 would galvanise the side.
"It's always disappointing not to win, particularly close losses like that are pretty hard to take. But you've got to take the positives out of games like that. There's a lot we can improve on as well."
This article first appeared on NRL.com