AAP Rugby

Klemmer ready to lead Blues pack again

By AAP Newswire

NSW mightn't know who's starting in the front row, but there's no doubt who'll be leading from the front.

As the Blues continued State of Origin II preparations with a barefoot session on Monday, coach Brad Fittler is yet to confirm whether Ryan James or Matt Prior will replace the injured Reagan Campbell-Gillard (broken jaw) at prop.

While both uncapped players bring different skills to the table, starting front-rower and Australian representative David Klemmer is aware of what he needs to deliver.

"I've been here before," Klemmer told AAP on Monday.

"Freddie gave me a role and I just try my best to help the team out."

And Klemmer deliver in Melbourne, showing his inexperienced teammates how it's done with an impressive 100 metres in his first stint alone as arguably their best forward.

It was a strong statement from the Canterbury star, who not only was starting his first match for the Blues since his debut in 2015, but playing for the first time without partner-in-crime Aaron Woods.

In fact, across his 24 games for NSW and Australia, he has been without Woods just twice and the pair were critical in the Kangaroos defending their World Cup crown last year.

So when it comes to rookie experiences in Melbourne, Klemmer was learning on the fly as well.

"It's all I've known, playing with Woodsy. Especially coming into these teams, I always had Woodsy to help me out with my game and help me outside of football as well," Klemmer said.

"I've learnt a lot. I've had to sort things out myself, especially because I'm a big thinker when it comes to training and how I prepare. He was always someone I asked to help out.

"I've had to do it myself. It was weird at first, but it's part of footy. I've got to grow up."

With the Blues just 80 minutes away from claiming the Origin shield, Klemmer needs no reminding of how easily a series win can be snatched away.

He described last year's deflating game-two loss in Sydney as a pivotal moment in his career.

"It's something in my career I'll never forget. We had a good win up there in Queensland and then we come down here and played just 40 minutes of football and lost," he said.

"I'll take a lot out of that game. I know what game two is about. Queensland are coming down here with a job to do. They're going to come out firing. We'll prepare well for it."

All 20 players - including a hampered James Maloney and Latrell Mitchell - participated in Monday's walkthrough at Coogee Oval, but will ramp up preparations with their first proper hitout on Tuesday.