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Qld Origin hopefuls' last roll of the dice

Hulking Sydney Roosters prop Martin Kennedy can further prise open Queensland’s State of Origin door with a dominating performance against defending premiers Melbourne at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.

It’s believed Kennedy’s recent efforts, as the Roosters have muscled their way into second place on the NRL ladder behind South Sydney, have convinced Maroons selectors he is up to an Origin call-up.

His performance against the Storm this weekend could clinch him an Origin debut with Queensland’s forward make-up set to undergo changes following the retirement of record-serving prop, Petero Civoniceva.

At a corporate dinner at Suncorp Stadium on Monday night, selectors will reveal their 17-man squad to challenge for an eighth straight series win, starting with game one on June 5 in Sydney.

It means the likes of the 122kg Kennedy, Canberra prop Dave Shillington, Warriors hard man Jacob Lillyman and utility prospects Ben Barba and Daly Cherry-Evans have one last roll of the Origin dice this weekend.

Kennedy and Lillyman are believed to be vying for a possible Origin bench jumper, while another big game from Shillington on top of his strong return from injury last weekend against Cronulla could result in him breaking into coach Mal Meninga’s starting pack.

The NRL judiciary on Wednesday night is likely to save selectors making a call on Gold Coast forward Dave Taylor facing a possible three-week suspension for a grade-two high tackle on Brisbane halfback Peter Wallace last weekend.

Meanwhile, the involvement in Origin of South Sydney forward Ben Te'o was up in the air following assault allegations levelled against him by a Brisbane woman on Wednesday.

Te'o strenuously denied the claims in a statement released by his South Sydney club on his behalf.

Queensland selectors declined to comment on the impact the allegations might have on his Origin claims.

#SecondChancesLondonBoundManhattanMagic — sorcery with a sardonic twist from Sophia Stuart

#SecondChancesLondonBoundManhattanMagic — sorcery with a sardonic twist from Sophia Stuart

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Oh, it’s so lovely to have an excerpt from a fresh new novel just about to be submitted to a select few publishers. SECOND CHANCES: London Bound. Manhattan Magic. a novel by sophia stuart. Chapter 1. Marion peered out of the window as the taxi swung into Church Row, Hampstead. She could not see much because it was raining. Of course it was raining, she thought, this is England. At least it made…

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http://www.znamo.ba/potresna-prica-hasanu-tufekcicu-iz-visegrada-cetnici-u-dva-rata-ubili-13-djece-video/

Potresna priča: Hasanu Tufekčiću iz Višegrada četnici u dva rata ubili 13 djece (VIDEO)

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Film “Na Drini krvavi Višegrad”, autor Avdo Huseinović posvetio je između ostalih i Višegrađaninu Hasanu Tufekčiću.

Hasan je rođen 1905. godine. Četnici pod vodstvom Draže Mihailovića 1943. godine u Višegradu ubili su njegovih desetero djece, pet kćerki i pet sinova. Ubijeni su u istom danu i na istom mjestu, na Višegradskoj ćupriji.

Hasan je preživio Drugi svjetski rat i ponovo se oženio. Dobio je petero djece. Umro je 1984. godine.

Nepunih 50 godina kasnije, 1992. godine, Hasanu su četnici ubili još troje djece u Višegradu. U dva rata su mu ubili 13 djece.

Civoniceva likes Scott-Shillington combo

Queensland great Petero Civoniceva says he’d hit NSW’s power pack with a Matt Scott-Dave Shillington front-row combination in next month’s opening State of Origin match in Sydney.

Settling on a replacement for the 33-game Origin prop who retired last year on the back of Queensland’s seventh successive series win is an issue for selectors before they reveal their 17-man squad on Monday night.

Shillington will get a great opportunity 48 hours earlier to convince selectors Des Morris, Gene Miles and Alan Smith of his worth when Canberra take on Manly’s aggressive pack.

There’s been whispers Queensland selectors are toying with the idea of pushing Gold Coast forward Nate Myles into the front-row and leaving the 114kg Shillington - who has seven Origins on his resume - to charge into the game off the bench.

But Civoniceva - the rock on which Queensland built their record-breaking streak since 2006 - is an advocate for a traditional front-rower to absorb the pressure and brutality that the opening 15 or 20 minutes of Origin delivers.

“I think Shillo would be right to start, he’s a big match player,” Civoniceva told AAP on Friday.

“I knows he’s missed a bit of football but he is a real professional and he would have kept himself in great shape.

"Those early exchanges are very tough.

"Matt (Scott) and Shillo are a proven front-row partnership, they’ve already done it at that level and also at Test level.

"They’ve both got huge work rates and when you’re talking about Origin you need that right from the kick off.”

Civoniceva said NSW had the potential to name a giant pack with Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods (109kg, 194cm) Cronulla brute Andrew Fifita (114kg, 196cm) and Penrith’s Tim Grant (112kg, 194cm) joining Paul Gallen in the Blues’ engine room.

“They have the players to put together a monster pack if Laurie Daley wants,” said Civoniceva.

“But in game two (2012) they had success pushing Gal (Gallen) into the front row and going for a quicker pack in the middle third.

"That’s another option but I think Laurie would have to consider the form of Fifita and Woods for sure.

"The make-up of their pack might come down to the halves they go with and the style Laurie wants them to play.”

Civoniceva, still running around in the Queensland Cup for Redcliffe at aged 37, said one rumour he could hit on the head was Queensland selectors recalling him for Origin I on June 5.

“I heard that and had a bit of a laugh,” said the big Fijian.

“Trust me, my Origin days are well and truly over.

"I’m enjoying life without all the pressure of knowing there is an Origin series coming up.”

Qld Origin pack big enough: Shillington

He rates the 2013 NSW team one of the best he’s seen but Queensland forward David Shillington has laughed off talk the Maroons may be undersized for next week’s State of Origin opener.

And Maroons coach Mal Meninga also has no concerns about the paucity of specialist props in his squad, declaring Origin is about “the size of the ticker”.

Queensland raised eyebrows when they opted for a mobile pack for next Wednesday’s Origin I in Sydney, ignoring the claims of Sydney Roosters bruiser Martin Kennedy and Brisbane big boy Josh McGuire.

At 194cm and 114kg, Shillington certainly fits the mould of an Origin front-rower.

And just as well - he will attempt to fill the big shoes of retired great Petero Civoniceva after being named in Queensland’s starting front row with Matt Scott.

The lack of other specialist props has sparked talk Queensland may be found wanting against a NSW outfit who will inject 196cm, 114kg Cronulla juggernaut Andrew Fifita and Dragons prop Trent Merrin off the bench.

However, Meninga appears to have moved to counter the mobility NSW have opted for in recent times when playing skipper Paul Gallen out of position at prop while selecting the likes of Greg Bird.

Asked on Tuesday if Queensland were a “prop short”, Shillington said: “We got the right selections.

"Myself and Scotty (Matt Scott) may play a few more minutes than normal, who knows?

"But when we are off we have mobile forwards who can take the reins.

"Their pack is not much bigger, it is kind of easily matched.

"People like Marty Kennedy, Josh McGuire were spoken about but the people we have got you don’t want to replace them with anyone.”

Shillington - who will line up for his eighth Origin clash since his 2009 debut - was glowing in praise for the Blues line-up, saying Fifita can be NSW’s game-breaker.

“There are no controversial selections from my point of view, they are all in great form,” he said.

“There’s Fifita on the bench and he’s a bit of an X-factor for them. He can do anything.

"And the halves (Sydney Roosters pair Mitchell Pearce, James Maloney), usually they are a controversial selection but those two players have been unbelievable.”

If Queensland need an injection into their pack after Origin I, out of sorts Gold Coast forward David Taylor should not be holding his breath.

Meninga appeared far from impressed with Taylor, who earlier this season earned a two-game ban from the Titans due to his attitude.

“It’s up to David really for him to get back in order both on the field and off the field,” he said.

“The Titans are pulling the right strings as far as his recovery from where he has been.”

Meanwhile, Meninga sounded quietly confident about injured winger Darius Boyd (ankle) but gave him until Friday to prove his fitness.

Melbourne flyer Justin O'Neill is on standby.

Maroons back-rower Ben Te'o (leg) has been cleared after a scare in South Sydney’s NRL loss to Cronulla on Monday night.

Civoniceva back in Origin training

The familiar frame of Petero Civoniceva was back in Queensland’s State of Origin preparations on the Sunshine Coast on Friday, as the Maroons stepped things up for Wednesday night’s clash with NSW in Sydney.

Normally wearing a Queensland jumper, the veteran of a record 33 Origins for a forward, turned out for his Queensland Cup side Redcliffe in an opposed training run against Mal Meninga’s squad at Stockland Stadium.

The purpose of the session was to allow the Queenslanders to rehearse plays they plan to throw at NSW on Wednesday night.

“We just want to help the guys in their preparation so we will try and replicate what NSW do on the night,” Civoniceva said.

“It’s probably the most important session the (Queensland) players will take part in against the defence and it’s about getting your timing right. In terms of cohesion, it is very important.

"There’ll be things that Mal will ask us to do that NSW might do on Wednesday night. It will be a short, sharp session to give the guys confidence for Origin I.”

Asked who he’d be in the drill, the 116kg Civoniceva quipped Blues’ halfback Mitchell Pearce.

On a more serious note, Civoniceva said Canberra prop Dave Shillington - one of the few players who can match his body size - would do the job in game one.

“He’s proven. He’s been there and done that before,” he said.

“The rotation off the bench, we have some great energy and power there to make a difference, especially around the ruck for Johnathan Thurston.”

Civoniceva, who retired from representative football after Queensland farewelled him with a seventh-straight series win last year, said the fact he was still playing made it easier to cope at Origin time.

“I’m sure come kick-off time on Wednesday night it will be hard to watch at first, but I’ll love watching it with my kids,” he said.

Queensland winger Darius Boyd didn’t take part in the opposed session, with Meninga likely to wait until the team heads to Sydney before making a decision on whether he plays.

Given the progress he’s made in the 72 hours since entering camp on Wednesday, he is likely to get the green light from Meninga.

Scott driven by Origin dumping

Powerful Cowboys prop Matt Scott continues to be driven by his painful axing from the Queensland side which launched the Maroons’ remarkable State of Origin streak in 2006.

Scott was among several casualties from the side which lost the first game that year, with NSW on the verge of an unprecedented fourth successive series win.

He didn’t get an Origin recall until the 2009 series.

“I was never bitter about being dropped, we had a lot of debutants in that game,” said Scott who’ll go head-to-head with North Queensland teammate and NSW enforcer James Tamou in Sydney on Wednesday night.

“We were copping criticism before the game.”

Critics targeted prop Petero Civoniceva as being too old and Darren Lockyer as a defensive liability.

“Six years later, Locky and Petero were still leading the team and a lot of people eating their words,” said Scott.“

Scott admits he probably wasn’t experienced enough to have been selected for Origin in 2006.

"To be honest, I don’t think I stepped up as I should have,” he told AAP.

But he had no desire to join 19 players who’d made just one Origin appearance for Queensland since 1980.

“I always wanted to get back. I got injured just before the 2007 series and missed most of 2008 with injury, I think I only played three or four games all season,” he said.

“It was heartbreaking for a young guy.

"I thought it was the end of the world back then.”

Scott believes this year’s series will be Queensland’s toughest yet with the NSW side new coach Laurie Daley has put together.

“He’s done a great job. It’s the best squad they’ve picked since I’ve been involved,” he said.

“They’ve got in-form players and club combinations in key positions.

"It’s going to be a tough series for us.”

Smith ready for Blues Origin challenge

The last time NSW won a State of Origin series Twitter was a sound associated with aviaries and nerdy US college students were first being poked on Facebook.

The Blues have tasted success in just six of the past 21 meetings against Queensland and not prevailed in a series since 2005.

But despite this woeful record they somehow find themselves going into Wednesday’s series opener at ANZ Stadium as favourites.

Confidence south of the Tweed is high with several of Laurie Daley’s side in great form for their NRL clubs.

This has also been fuelled by Queensland boasting the oldest team in Origin history and starting a series for the first time since 2000 without the inspirational Petero Civoniceva in their front row.

A question about ‘Dad’s Army’ was the only time Maroons coach Mal Meninga showed any signs of bristling at Monday’s uncharacteristically cordial joint press conference with Daley.

Skipper Cameron Smith, who will turn 30 the week before game two in Brisbane, said he was unfazed by the average age of his side being just under 29 - three years older than the Blues.

“I think if you’re still playing good footy it doesn’t matter how old you are,” Smith said on Tuesday.

“If there were guys playing better footy or Mal thought there were guys that were younger and better then they’d be here.

"The `Dad’s Army’ tag is a bit of fun but I suppose it’s fact. There are a few guys that are 31 and Ash Harrison is 32.

"I’m turning 30 this year, but I don’t feel old. I am still playing footy and running around with a few young guys out there and I am still enjoying playing State of Origin footy.”

A large part of Queensland’s success has been the continuity of team selection and Smith sees the merits of Daley’s decision to partner Sydney Roosters halves James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce.

Cronulla trio Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and Luke Lewis will also make up part of the Blues’ pack, while 11 of the side that played in game three last year were retained.

With NSW’s familiarity in the halves, Smith knows his side will need to dig deep and use all of their experience to win game one.

“It certainly hasn’t made it easier, they are a really strong combination at club level and have shown that with the Roosters this year,” he said.

“I think if you look at our side, the combinations we have between myself, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk that only makes a team stronger I believe.

"We’ve had a look at their halves and the way they play and minimise what they do well.

"We know what the Cronulla boys bring to the table, they like the ball in hand and the rough stuff in the middle of the field.

"We’ve got an idea in mind about how we go about things and we know we’re in for a tough night defensively.”