Papalii's praise for wildcard Klemmer
He knows what it is like to be the young tearaway ruffling a few old feathers so it's perhaps not surprising that Josh Papalii saw a kindred spirit in Blues firebrand Dave Klemmer as he sat sideline in Origin II.
Dropped after Game One of the 2014 series, Papalii has earned a Queensland Origin recall on the back of improved performances for the Raiders, just edging out young Roosters front-rower Dylan Napa to replace the injured Josh McGuire for Game Three next Wednesday night.
As a 20-year-old, Papalii shot to prominence when he laid out Sharks' skipper Paul Gallen in a qualifying final in 2012 and then reignited their running battle with a hit after Gallen had passed the ball in Origin I last year that was later referred to in the media as a "dog shot".
Still just 23 years of age, Papalii downplayed any suggestion of a running feud with Gallen but his eyes did light up when the subject of Klemmer's rampage in Game Two was mentioned.
Sitting sideline at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as Queensland's 18th man, Papalii said he had to admire Klemmer's fearless approach to his football, the pair playing alongside each other in three Tests for Australia in last year's Four Nations tournament.
"It is pretty cool to watch and he is definitely suited to Origin, that's for sure," Papalii said.
"I played with him in the Aussie team and for someone to be that big and that young it just shows his class of the way he plays. He's killing it at the moment and he's exciting to watch."
Queensland coach Mal Meninga refused to be drawn into any comment on Klemmer other than to say the Maroons "can't control what he does". Which is exactly the point: no one seems to be able to control him.
At 200 centimetres and 120 kilograms Klemmer said in the aftermath of Origin II that "there's nothing to be scared of" after Maroons players had unsuccessfully ordered him to show some respect.
In the closing stages of Origin II he appeared to be daring the Queensland players to take him on and on Monday night he warmed up for the decider with a barnstorming display for the Bulldogs against the Storm with over 200 running metres.
You can formulate plans to combat his size but it is his aggressive approach to the game that makes Klemmer such a difficult proposition according to Queensland back-rower Sam Thaiday.
"It is [different] because everything is so structured these days," Thaiday told NRL.com. "You can watch video on players and you can pick up on habits and things they do out on the field but to have that unpredictability is a little bit different.
"It's hard to prepare for sometimes."
This article first appeared on NRL.com