Why Queensland jeers won't stop NSW's back-fence Spence

Liam Martin says a hostile Brisbane crowd will play right into the hands of NSW “fireball” Spencer Leniu as the tearaway prop looks to power the Blues to victory in the State of Origin decider.

Front-rower Leniu made his Origin debut in the series opener but looms as one of coach Michael Maguire’s trump cards as the Blues look to bully a Queensland pack that were found wanting in a 38-18 thumping in game two in Melbourne.

Leniu has rarely taken a backward step and his punch off the bench at the MCG ensured NSW kept the intensity high when Payne Haas went off for a rest.

Leniu
NSW have benefited from Spencer Leniu's punch coming off the bench.

The 23-year-old Leniu has also begun to make a name for himself at club level with his back-fence carries.

Leniu was hyping up the crowd during the Sydney Roosters’ 42-12 win over St George Illawarra on Sunday, prowling like a caged lion as he waited to receive the ball off the kick-off.

He skittled a handful of Dragons defenders as he was egged on by an appreciative crowd and Martin says the more intimidating the environment, the better Leniu plays. 

“That’s him, he fires himself up and wants people to fire him up,” Martin said ahead of next Wednesday’s decider at Suncorp Stadium. 

“We call him fireball because he gets going and it’s awesome to play alongside - it’s not so fun to be up against. 

“We were into him before, asking if the next time he plays us (at Penrith) can you run at ‘Romey’ (Jarome Luai). 

“It (the Suncorp crowd) won't faze him and it will probably drive him on a bit. 

“He is that kind of player that will lift the intensity and that's why we love him and love playing with him.”

Liam Martin
Blues firebrand Liam Martin appreciates Leniu's on-field intensity.

Leniu’s former captain at Penrith, fellow Blues star Isaah Yeo said he admired how the explosive prop had learned to revel in creating chaos for the opposition.

“When you carry like that off every kick-off and the crowd’s getting behind you, you can do whatever you want, he was certainly loving it,” Yeo said.

“I actually hadn’t seen that side of him before, you could just see he was loving the moment.” 

The Blues hit the training ground in the Blue Mountains for the first time on Wednesday with Newcastle centre Bradman Best the only player on restricted duties as he juggles a minor hamstring complaint.

The chance to create history at Suncorp Stadium next week is not lost on Martin or Yeo.

Both players were part of the 2022 Blues side who were thrown off their game in a Brisbane decider when the second half began with a fight.

Queensland went on to win and haven’t lost to NSW at their spiritual home since 2005. 

Martin
Liam Martin (3rd left) says the Blues won't be pushed around.

“It’s an incredible challenge, but I think with the playing group we've got, we're really embracing and looking forward to it,” Martin said. 

“When we first came into camp one of the things we talked about was making memories together.

“...We've all got one another's back and we don't take a backward step.

“We won't be pushed around, we'll be chasing the physicality and just doing whatever it takes as a team."

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