Maroons star Dane Gagai ready to step up in Greg Inglis' absence

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AAP

No one can replace Greg Inglis but Dane Gagai is confident he can make his presence felt stepping up for the injured Queensland skipper in Wednesday's State of Origin III.

Rugby League State of Origin Game 2 - 22/6/2016 Queensland v New South Wales Suncorp Stadium , Brisbane Australia
Queensland's players including Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis celebrate a try scored by Dane Gagai 
Photo : Jason O'Brien / Photosport

Queensland's Greg Inglis celebrate a try scored by Dane Gagai.

Source: Photosport

Gagai knows he will have a target on his back in defence after moving from right wing to left centre in a Maroons backline reshuffle caused by Inglis' broken thumb.

Particularly after his right edge was exploited by NSW in the first two games, setting up the Blues' first series win in 13 years.

Gagai admitted it was hard to glean anything from Inglis's game before Origin III because of his "freak" abilities.

But the Maroons flyer backed himself to hold his own after being handed arguably the toughest assignment in Origin.

"It is a massive loss not having Greggy there. He's obviously devastated he couldn't be here but that's the nature of the sport; we have to move forward," Gagai, who plays right centre for his NRL side South Sydney, said.

"It's a new position at this level of footy but I have played enough of it to be confident to do the job.

"And I am confident with the people around me that they can do their job. I can focus on what I need to do."

Asked what he had learned from Inglis in Maroons camp, Gagai laughed: "That he is a freak and one of a kind.

It's a new position at this level of footy but I have played enough of it to be confident to do the job"
Maroons star Dane Gagai

"It's hard taking something from Greggy because he's 106kg, quick as any outside back; it's about being my own player.

"It's just his competitiveness and aggression.

"I remember before we went into game one, just the look he had on his face, you could tell he wanted to go out and hit somebody.

"He was asked a couple of times whether he wanted to be at fullback or in the centres and he likes being in that front line hitting people (in centres).

Dane Gagai beats Jarryd Hayne to score the winning try
NSW v Queensland State of Origin rugby league match at ANZ Stadium, Homebush Australia. Wednesday 21 June 2017. Photo: Paul Seiser / www.photosport.nz

Dane Gagai beats Jarryd Hayne to score.

Source: Photosport

"Just bringing that aggression is something a lot of centres wearing the maroon had so I just have to make sure I am doing my job."

Gagai missed three tackles in game one and four in the second as NSW carved up Queensland's right edge.

But he said he was ready defensively for whatever NSW dished up on the left edge where he will line up against centre James Roberts - arguably the NRL's fastest player.

"I am fully prepared for what they throw at us; I just have to make sure I am ready," Gagai said.

Defence may be a concern but Gagai has no problem with attack.

Gagai is aiming to become the first Origin player to score 10 tries in as many games.

He has nine from nine.

Regardless of what happens in game three he will set a new mark for most Origin tries after 10 games which is eight, held by Inglis, Dale Shearer (Queensland) and NSW's Timana Tahu.

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