Blues bank on Stewart venom - Mini OUT

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First Grader
HE'S the electrifying fullback powered by a $2.50 bag of snakes. Tonight, Brett Stewart is poised to take his exciting brand of football to State of Origin in place of injured Anthony Minichiello.

A diabetic who packs the lollies in his kit bag for each game, Manly try-scoring machine Stewart will join Greg Bird and Ryan Hoffman as Blues debutants in a must-win Telstra Stadium showdown against Queensland.

Minichiello will officially withdraw today after failing to overcome back spasms.

Stewart, who has type one diabetes and is insulin-dependent, keeps the snakes close at hand to ward off low blood sugar levels.

He also gives Popper fruit juices to his team's trainers for every game.

"Since I was 13 years old I've had to manage this situation," Stewart said, who checks his sugar levels 10 times each day.

"The snakes are an important part of my matchday kit - as important as my mouthguard, boots and diabetes needle.

"I also give the trainer a Popper if ever I have a 'low' during a game. When I was young, diabetes was a bit of a pain but I've got everything down pat now."

The Maroons last night made it known they would place immense pressure on rookie Stewart.

"He'll be tested - all players are tested at this level," Queensland coach Mal Meninga said.

On a day of drama for the Blues on Origin eve, Stewart was rushed into the squad while Bulldogs enforcer Mark O'Meley was placed on standby for prop Luke Bailey who was later cleared to play.

Stewart's late entry into the Blues side is similar to last year when Brett Finch was chosen less than 24 hours before Origin I in Sydney.

Finch, who then kicked the match-winning field goal for a 17-16 win, believes a late call-up may actually work in Stewart's favour.

"With me, everything happened so fast and at the end of the day things fell into place," Finch said. "It will probably help Brett by coming into camp so late in the week.

"He won't have time to think too much about the game and get too nervous. I feel for 'Mini' - he will be heartbroken."

Stewart said he hoped to have as big an impact as Finch in his Origin debut tonight.

"The boys were joking about it, it would be good to have the same influence on the game, that's for sure," the 22-year-old player said.

NSW coach Graham Murray was calm about the late addition, but added: "It's a disruption, of course it is."

Former Blues Origin fullback Garry Jack last night backed Stewart to shine.

"He's got genuine speed and he's a good support player, he pops up everywhere," said Jack, who played 17 Origin matches in the No.1 jumper.

"He'll bring that unknown quantity. He'll be fine, I really rate him highly, I expect him to get on to some of Kimmorley's kicks and cause real problems."

Jack is an unabashed fan of Stewart's destructive attacking capabilities, and statistics support his viewpoint the Manly excitement machine can cause genuine headaches for the Maroons' defensive line tonight.

Stewart's 2007 return of eight tries from 12 matches takes his career tally to 59 tries from just 75 appearances - a strike rate of over 78 per cent - far greater than Minichiello's career strike rate of 51 per cent with just two tries this season.
I hate everything in blue today. IT's the passion you Mexicans don't understand.

Why don't you go and live in Bumfuk NQ then & leave this civilised region alone, ya friggin redneck.
[quote author=Matabele]
I hate everything in blue today. IT's the passion you Mexicans don't understand.

Why don't you go and live in Bumfuk NQ then & leave this civilised region alone, ya friggin redneck.

Someone has to convert the pagans.
What ?
I suppose if you moved to America rather than Australia you'd support an Arkansas or Texan team over a New York or San Francisco team.
Bring back slavery !
He probably would support Arkansas or Texas if thats where he lived when he first moved to the country..
Can't beat the Philadelphia Eagles, although Methinks they missied there best chance a few years ago
Trust Mata to turn a momentous career stride by one of our favorite sons into an excuse to bring it all down to the level of bumpkins located in field tents sucking on sugar cane. ;)
In all honesty, good luck to him (and Kite and Lyon). I hope all three make it through uninjured.

I have a horrible feeling about Stewart. Remember how he did his shoulder in his debut First Grade game? I hope the same doesn't happen in his debut Origin.

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11 7 4 59 14
9 6 3 57 14
10 6 4 -10 14
10 6 4 115 12
10 5 5 -56 12
11 5 5 30 11
10 4 6 15 10
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10 4 6 -18 8
9 3 6 -71 8
10 3 6 -9 7
9 2 7 -69 6
9 2 7 -87 6
9 1 8 -180 4
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