Queensland ready for NSW says Hagan

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Queensland - State of OriginAssistant coach Michael Hagan believes Queensland are fielding their best attacking side in recent years in today’s opening game of the 2012 State of Origin series. He also says a desperate New South Wales (+8 Match Handicap) team are weighed down by pressure to win after losing six straight series. Speaking just a few hours before kick-off at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium, Hagan declared the Maroons ready to go, including skipper Cameron Smith who has been battling a cold.

Hagan said "Everyone's relaxed and our preparation has been exceptionally good. NSW are going to be hard to beat. They are going to be desperate because of the pressure they've been under for a long while. They were thereabouts last year and they've obviously built on what they did. We know they've going to have the same attitude in game one and they've got plenty of points in them. I don't think they'll be too much between the two teams at the end."

Queensland (+8 Match Handicap) produced a near-faultless first half in last year's third game series-decider and Hagan said if they could reproduce that effort they would be very hard to beat. The absence of retired captain and five-eighth Darren Lockyer had allowed the likes of new skipper Smith, promoted halfback Cronk and new five-eighth Johnathan Thurston (20/1 First Try Scorer) to step up and have more input, according to Hagan.

He said "You don't replace a player like Darren but his retirement has allowed Cameron to be more dominant in his role. Cooper and JT have been very good in their roles and Billy Slater has provided some really good energy around the team."

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