Defence-minded … Chris Mcqueen.Many footballers wear their hearts on their sleeves but South Sydney utility Chris McQueen made his first-grade debut with his passion for the tradition-steeped club stamped on his neck in the form of a distinctive tattoo.
When McQueen emulated the likes of club legends Clive Churchill, Ron Coote, George Piggins, John O’Neill and John Sattler and wore the cardinal and myrtle battle colours he added the figure 1070 to his collection of ink to commemorate his place on the club’s roll of honour.
However, three games later McQueen suffered a knee injury that was to keep him out of action for an entire year and have him wondering whether his career had ended. “Souths stuck by me and gave me another contract and that meant a lot,” he said before today’s match against a Penrith outfit that has lost Luke Lewis, Michael Jennings and Tim Grant to NSW Origin duty and halfback Luke Walsh to injury.
The popular Queenslander took time out from his preparation to concede the tattoo, allied with the club’s show of faith, had given him good reason to remain a Rabbitoh for life. “I love the place,” he said. “The new coaching staff has taken us in a great direction and if I get the chance to stay at Souths for my entire career I will.”
McQueen, who left his home town of Kingaroy in 2005 as a raw 18-year-old to join Brisbane’s Wynnum club before being recruited by Souths three years later, has thrived after a recent switch frm the wing to the pack. ”The biggest lesson has been getting my defence right. When you’re out on the wing you normally have a guy try to step to get outside of you, he’s certainly not trying to run as fast as he can into you. That’s the difference, the defence. You might make four tackles in a row in some sets [as a forward] and then, when the opposition kicks the ball back, you have to run back and run the ball up.”
McQueen, named in the emerging Maroons squad earlier this year, said he had learnt a lot from watching English import Sam Burgess from the sidelines earlier this year when he was dropped by coach Michael Maguire to reinforce the message he needed extra starch in his defence.
“He’s always very aggressive and is a big, strong boy,” McQueen said of Burgess. “I was dropped because of my defence and I watched him closely and took in the way he played.” While he’s matching muscle and grunt with the big boppers, he has kept up his wing skills. “I do things like catching the high ball and the defensive drills designed for the wingers because if I needed to play out there I’d want to make the transition smoothly.”
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