Workhorse Jake Trbojevic primed for NSW return in State of Origin at Perth’s Optus Stadium

George ClarkeAAP
VideoHuge head clash in opening play of State of Origin.

Jake Trbojevic is the first to concede he isn’t going to run through brick walls for NSW, but after missing selection for game one the cheerful Manly forward desperately wants to cap his return to the Blues set-up with a win.

The 28-year-old was overlooked for the opening game of the series but has been thrown straight back into Brad Fittler’s starting side for Sunday’s game in Perth with the series on the line.

Typically a lock with Manly, Trbojevic will partner Payne Haas in the front row.

Trbojevic has been here before, when in 2019 he was moved to prop for a game in Perth with the Blues needing a victory to keep their hopes of winning the series alive.

In the wet at Optus Stadium, his brother Tom dismantled Queensland with a hat-trick in a 38-6 win which set the Blues on the path to wrap up the series in Sydney.

“That was a great game, we had a really good win coming off a loss and I’d like to think we can do that again,” Trbojevic said.

“It was very close in game one this year and the (NSW) boys were probably unlucky.

“They came home strongly but just couldn’t get over the line.

“We have to turn it around, we know this game is a must-win.”

Trbojevic isn’t the classic metre-eater forward and at club level this year he’s running at a career-low 84 metres per game.

He may lack the power packed by the Queensland front row of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Josh Papalii, but his workrate is second to none.

“Aren’t they what? They’re so strong and powerful,” he said, when asked about taking on the intimidating Queensland front row.

“They were both very good in game one and they’re great players, so I’ll just have to do my best.

“I’m happy to do whatever I can to fit in the side, I will play wherever they ask me to.

Jake Trbojevic.
Camera IconManly lock Jake Trbojevic is thrilled to be recalled for NSW, but he'll play as a prop in Origin II. Credit: AAP

“I am just going to try and do my role and I played prop a lot in my early days.

“I’m not going to break the game open or anything like that. I don’t want to do anything special I just want to support the guys around me.”

The best form of support may come in one of Trbojevic’s greatest assets: winning the battle of the ruck.

The Blues were caught out by Queensland’s rapid running and kniving in defence at the play-the-ball, but Trbojevic said the quest to control the speed of the game couldn’t fall solely on his shoulders.

“It can’t be one player doing it, it’s a team effort when you want to control the ruck,” he said.

“You want to control the pace of the game and Queensland played very fast.

“For us to get a good result we have to all be contributing to that from the start.”

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