By Stephen Gallaher
Origin 2 is always the most desperate of Origin matches.
One side have their backs against the wall and the series is at stake. This year it’s New South Wales.
Perth’s Optus Stadium will host this one, a place where New South Wales have never lost an Origin match.
With plenty of changes in their side, you’re fine to think that coach Brad Fitler is desperate. He didn’t quite get the side right in game one, and losing by six sees his hand forced.
The return of Jake Trbojevic, Angus Crichton, Apisai Koroisau will strength this Blues side in the middle, and Matt Burton and Siosifa Talakai are the two new faces who will make their debuts.
Injury is the only reason forcing the victorious Queenslanders to make changes, with Reuben Cotter and Xavier Coates being replaced by Jai Arrow and Murry Taulagi who will play his first game.
While it was only a six point loss for the Blues in Game One, they are desperate to turn that around.
The way that Queensland pressured the kickers, and the way that they were forced to play a style they didn’t want to is testament to just how good the Maroons were under Billy Slater.
The way that Ben Hunt and Harry Grant worked is the same reason why the Cockroaches have brought back Koroisau, and have started him ahead of Cook.
Jack Wighton, arguably the Blues’ best player in game one is missing due to Covid, and that’s a real dampener for this side. He was immense and involved in everything.
I’m convinced that the Cane Toads’ Cam Munster is a freak. He makes rugby league look very, very easy. The way he dominated singlehandedly shows that he’s an Origin player through and through, and the Blues will have to at least try limiting his impact….But I don’t know if that’s possible on this stage.
New South Wales will have to be more vigilant around the ruck. They were dominated by Queensland in that aspect, and will really need to be better.
They will look to get quick play the balls where possible, and speed the game up. That’s what worked for them in the last series, and it could pay off on a dry Perth track.
For Queensland, they just have to do what they did in Game One. Make the opposition uncomfortable. Rush up on defence. Slow the ruck down. Those little one percenters went a long way for the Maroons and if they’re able to pull it off again, they will take game two and will probably sweep the Blues.
But where’s the fun in that? A decider at Suncorp is a must. Like I said, game two is all about being desperate.
New South Wales have to be better. It’s very rare to see the likes of Cleary and Luai play two bad games in a row. Plus there is a strong Penrith contingent in this side, and you can see just what Fittler is trying to leverage off the success that they’ve had over the last 24 months.
I’m tipping Matt Burton to cruise through to score the first try, and New South Wales to win 30-20. Setting up an epic game three in the cauldron of Suncorp.
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