Dane Gagai: AAP
Dane Gagai: AAP

Carne says Gagai has the goods for Origin decider

FORMER Maroons flyer Willie Carne is expecting big things from State of Origin debutant Dane Gagai ahead of Wednesday night's decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Carne debuted on the wing for Queensland as a 21-year-old in game three at Lang Park in 1990 after just five first-grade matches, which Queensland won 14-10.

He was in Maroons camp on Saturday and spoke with Gagai at length about several things including his relationship with the Knights' centre's father Wade who the Broncos' dual-premiership winner played with in Brisbane's Colts division in the late 1980s.

"He's a talent and he is pretty fired up," Carne said of Gagai.

"He's a pretty quiet kid but we had a good chat about his father who was a super athlete and probably should have gone further.

"I think Dane is a bit more disciplined.

"He's 24 so he's not like he is 21 or anything and is a rookie, he has had plenty of game time."

Carne also spoke with coach Mal Meninga about play-maker Cooper Cronk's fitness.

Cronk missed Queensland's 26-18 game two defeat with a knee injury but is back for the decider in a huge boost for the Maroons.

Queensland struggled for direction in Cronk's absence as stand-in halfback Daly Cherry-Evans bumbled his way through a forgettable performance and has since been dropped from the squad.

Cronk's availability is invaluable to the Maroons' chances on Wednesday night with the Melbourne star affirming himself as the team's general since the retirement of Darren Lockyer in 2011.

"It is funny that it was only a few years ago when he couldn't make the team when we had Lockyer and Thurston there," Carne said.

"It is amazing how quickly they can become the dominating one.

"All of a sudden Lockyer retired and he's had his chance and now we need him.

"I asked Mal how he was and Mal said he was fine which is great."


Greg Inglis will shift to fullback from centre following Billy Slater's withdrawal due to a shoulder injury that will have him sidelined for the remainder of 2015.

Carne said having Inglis at the back would provide the Maroons with a lot more attacking spark.

"I think he probably hasn't been as involved this Origin series (as the past) but he will get the ball a lot more now," he said.

"GI going to fullback is a good thing and I think he will enjoy that opportunity because he plays there for his club."

Carne expects Queensland to win the series but implored the Maroons had to do all they could to limit Blues centre Michael Jennings' involvement.

"Bloody Jennings is their gun, so if we can get him sorted out we will be alright," he said.

"He's a hard one to contain for 80 minutes."

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