Paul Gallen

Call to arms: NSW captain Paul Gallen. Picture: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

SHUNTED into the front-row from lock for State of Origin II, NSW enforcer Paul Gallen has challenged every NSW-born prop to “lift their game”.

Blues coach Ricky Stuart has confronted criticism this week for naming just two specialist props – as well as six back-rowers – for Wednesday night’s return match against Queensland.

Gallen said his own selection at prop was a “wake-up call” to other NSW-born front-rowers who are striving to play State of Origin football.

Since 2006, NSW have used 14 props to Queensland’s five.

“It’s a bit of a wake-up call to all the props in NSW too,” Gallen said yesterday. “I’ve been put there. They need to lift their game a bit. “If you have a look over the past few years, people talk about the halves being changed around – and they have been – but prop is somewhere where we haven’t had too many dominant players.

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“The two props from game one (Kade Snowden and Jason King) wouldn’t be happy with their games. I am there through necessity.

“This is a good opportunity for NSW front-rowers to stand

up. Props need to go to another level to play Origin. We have been a bit unlucky with injuries.

“Keith Galloway, Michael Weyman, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs have been injured. Props need to be playing footy. They need to be playing week in, week out.

“It’s where Queensland have had the edge through ‘Pricey’ (Steve Price) and Petero (Civoniceva) being there so long and now Matt Scott and Ben Hannant.

“Have a look at the Australian forward pack in the last couple of years and it’s pretty much been all Queensland. Queensland’s been lucky to have their front-rowers fit and we haven’t had any fit.”Gallen will no doubt excel at prop. He is tough, unrelenting and old-school.

The Maroons will try to demolish NSW through the middle but Gallen will be ready.

“I play tight. I’ve played front-row for Australia before,” Gallen said. “The strategy behind it (just two props) is to have some more speed around the ruck. Game one I played a lot in the front-row. The front-rowers struggled a little, so I played up there.

“I am sure they will run at me but I’m not too worried. My game won’t change at all. The only thing that will change is the number on my back.”

Gallen has listened and learned to the advice of ex-Test props Glenn Lazarus and Steve Roach while in camp.

“Ricky says Glenn Lazarus is the best front-rower ever,” Gallen said. “I have been getting a few tips.”

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