Nathan Smith previews the second game of the 2019 State of Origin series between New South Wales and Queensland.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
New South Wales
This is a must win game for New South Wales if they want to keep the series alive. While there were good signs from the Brad Fittler-coached side in game one, they will need to improve considerably – particularly in attack – if they are to prevent Queensland winning the series.
The Maroons dished out a typical Queensland performance in game one. Across the park, every single player gave their all. They are now in prime position to reclaim the shield. Worryingly for New South Wales, their brand new spine of Kalyn Ponga, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans and Ben Hunt will only get better.
New South Wales
Brad Fittler has made several changes. Latrell Mitchell has been dropped after a quiet performance in game one. Jack Wighton replaces him. Additionally, Blake Ferguson, who was touted as a possible winger prior to game one, has been rewarded with a jersey following Nick Cotric’s injury. Tom Trbojevic replaces Josh Morris at centre. James Maloney has earned a recall over Cody Walker and Daniel Saifiti will make his debut, replacing the injured David Klemmer. The bench has been re-arranged, with Crichton dropped and Payne Haas out due to injury. Dale Finucane comes in, as does Tariq Sims and Wade Graham. Fittler has been ruthless and it remains to be seen whether he’s made the right call in chopping and changing the side.
New South Wales squad: 1. James Tedesco 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Tom Trbojevic 4. Jack Wighton 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. James Maloney 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Boyd Cordner (c) 12. Tyson Frizell 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Dale Finucane 15. Tariq Sims 16. Cameron Murray 17. Wade Graham 18. Ryan Matterson 19. Clinton Gutherson
Queensland are largely unchanged, and rightfully so, as they performed exceptionally in game one. Only two changes have been made, with Jarrod Wallace and Tim Glasby coming in for the injured Jai Arrow and Joe Ofahengaue.
Queensland squad: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Corey Oates 3. Michael Morgan 4. Will Chambers 5. Dane Gagai 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c) 8. Dylan Napa 9. Ben Hunt 10. Josh Papalii 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire 14. Moses Mbye 15. Jarrod Wallace 16. Tim Glasby 17. David Fifita 18. Christian Welch 19. Edrick Lee 20. Corey Norman
HEAD TO HEAD
Game one was an even affair. Ultimately, it came down to Queensland owning the key moments, which New South Wales struggled with. Perhaps due to their dominance across the past decade, Queensland’s winning mentality has filtered through to their next generation of stars. It marks Queensland’s second straight win in Origin, having also won the third game of 2018. Neither side has ever played at Perth’s Optus Stadium, so there will be no advantage in that regard. However, Queensland have the momentum and the benefit of a largely unchanged team, while the Blues will have to adapt to new combinations. The past four matches have seen score lines between 1-12, so expect a close one.
The best performing halves will win this. In game one, New South Wales lacked a bit of direction from Nathan Cleary and Cody Walker, which severely hurt their chances of victory. Queensland were expertly steered around the park by captain Cherry-Evans, which allowed Cameron Munster to play his natural game to great effect. Maloney has been brought back into the team, which will be hugely beneficial to Cleary. Last year, we saw Maloney take control of New South Wales and he is likely do so again. With form and momentum on Queensland’s side, one can only imagine that Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster will rise to another level for game two.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday, 23rd of June
Venue: Perth Stadium
Referee: Gerard Sutton and Ashley Klein
WHO WILL WIN?
New South Wales will have to produce a perfect game to win this one and take it to a decider. With the complete reshuffle of their backline, that is unlikely. Expect Queensland to improve on their game one performance and win yet another State of Origin shield.
Queensland by eight.