TOUGH ENCOUNTER: New South Wales Blues fullback James Tedesco is tackled by Queensland Maroons winger Dane Gagai.
TOUGH ENCOUNTER: New South Wales Blues fullback James Tedesco is tackled by Queensland Maroons winger Dane Gagai. DEAN LEWINS

Gagai happy to do Origin dirty work

DANE Gagai openly admits to not being the fastest or the flashiest winger in the game.

But when it comes to rolling up the sleeves and making the dirty metres where your looks can quickly be re-arranged and you can endure severe pain, the Newcastle three-quarter is right up there with best dummy half exponents in the NRL.

In-fact, Gagai prides himself on making those hard, tough, bruising metres in the fierce intensity of Origin football and puts his body on the line without fear to help out his forwards whenever he can.

"When I'm out there on the wing and I look in the middle where those boys are and I see our forwards, how hard they are working in the middle, the only thing I'm thinking about is getting in there and having a carry," Gagai told foxsports.com.au.

"You want to give them a rest, so you carry it as strong as you can to do your bit."

Gagai and the other Queensland outside backs jump into dummy half knowing they are going to get belted when they take off from the ruck.

"That's footy and that's what we sign up for," the South Sydney-bound 26-year-old says.

"I'd rather do that than have our forwards do the carries after they've already defended a whole set.

"My mentality is to do whatever I can to help out my teammates and that goes both ways, because they (forwards) put kick pressure on their halves, which allows us wingers and fullbacks to have easier carry backs."

Gagai, who has been high up in man-of-the-match voting in both games so far this year, believes he can put together and even better 80 minutes in Wednesday night's series decider.

"You're never perfect, there's always something you can do better," he said.

"Those (first) two games are gone. I can't just think that form will magically transition into this game. I have to prepare thoroughly and be ready and focused on the night."

Gagai is on target to eclipse the most metres run by an outside back since Wendell Sailor's 550m in the 1999 Origin series.

He has already carved out 409m, the most by any player in the series, but is still well short of Sailor's record 737m during the 1998 series.

"I don't go into any game with the intention of making metres," said Gagai who rarely fails to break the first tackle.

"Honestly, I go in to a game with the attitude that I don't want to let my teammates down. My mentality is to do whatever I can to help out my teammates.

"I want to get as many carries as I can, not for the metres, but because I know our forwards will have more energy if I do."

Gagai's 14-month-old Dante, his family and his dad, Ray, are his inspirations - the people he says keep him grounded and who are always there for him.

"He (Dante) is the best thing that ever happened to me and it always will be that way," he said.

"It's hard coming into these camps, because you are away for a while.

"I take my hat off to blokes like Cameron Smith, JT and Billy Slater, who've been doing it for years.

"I think Cam has played 42 Origin games and we're in camp for 10 days, so that's 420 days he's been away from his family.

"(But) Mal (Meninga) and Kevvy (Kevin Walters) allows us to bring our families into camp and spend quality time with them.

"My missus and family will spend a week with me, so it's really great not being away from them for too long."

Before Dante came along Gagai's main inspiration was his father, a flying north Queensland winger who had a contract with the Brisbane Broncos but didn't get to play a game because of a string of injuries.

"My dad was my inspiration. I got to watch him play every week when I was a ball boy on the sidelines in Mackay when he was playing A-grade," Gagai said.

"People tell me he was quicker than me but he was a lightweight at 75kg."

Gagai has already experienced a win in a series decider.

"I was fortunate enough to debut in a (Origin) decider," he said.

"I was lucky enough to get a try in my debut which is something I will remember for the rest of my life."

He scored the first of Queensland's nine tries in their 52-6 demolition of the Blues to wrap up the 2015 Origin series at Suncorp Stadium.

He boasts the impressive record of having scored more tries (7) than he has played Origin games (6).

Another try and another series deciding win on Wednesday night would no doubt be another special memory for Gagai, who has come a long way since being cut by Brisbane in 2012 and banished by Queensland coach Mal Meninga for disciplinary reasons in 2014.

News Corp Australia


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