Lachy MacCorquodale previews the blockbuster second game of the 2020 State of Origin series. This is what we have to look forward to.
New South Wales Blues
The New South Welshmen will be disappointed after their capitulation in the second half of the opening game last week. They entered the half-time break looking certain to walk away with a victory, but they took their foot of the pedal in the second half and the Queenslanders made them pay.
The Blues were rightly critised after their performance in game one, letting a 10-point halt-time lead slip, and Brad Fittler has made the changes he believes are necessary to bring a win for the home side in game two. The inclusion of Cody Walker should made the side a bit more unpredictable in attack, just like the final 20 minutes of game one when he was brought off the bench.
Junior Paulo’s dropping to the bench raised a few eyebrows, but is probably an attempt to bring him on against tiring forwards, which would allow his offloading game to excel as the Blues settle for Payne Haas in the starting side. Nathan Brown is an exciting inclusion off the bench and will bring plenty of energy in his Origin debut.
Another textbook “Queensland” win for the Maroons in game one: coming in as massive underdogs, they managed to turn around a 10-point deficit at the half-time break to waltz home as four-point winners. The Queensland spirit was in full flight as the team with eight debutants showed the Blues that they’d be no pushover this year.
It took the Maroons a while to get into the match, with some of their players having not played for six weeks. They completely changed in the second half. Queensland played with clarity as Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans continuously kicked to the corners, pinning the Blues in their own 10 on multiple occassions. Those two will need another big performance if they are to close the series out before the final game in Brisbane.
Queensland hero Valentine Holmes returns from suspension and will take his spot at fullback, which is good news for the Queenslanders, despite the loss of AJ Brimson. Many fans will be excited to see 20-year-old Moeaki Fotuaika included on the bench after a superb season with the Gold Coast Titans.
New South Wales Blues
Cody Walker comes in for Luke Keary at five-eighth. Both Boyd Cordner and Cameron Murray have been ruled out of the remainder of the series after suffering injuries last Wednesday night, which pushes Angus Crichton into the starting side and allows Nathan Brown and Isaah Yeo (making their Origin debuts) to come onto the bench.
1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Clinton Gutherson 4. Jack Wighton 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cody Walker 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Payne Haas 11. Angus Crichton 12. Tyson Frizell 13. Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14. Dale Finucane 15. Junior Paulo 16. Nathan Brown 17. Isaah Yeo.
AJ Brimson has been left out of the side after injuring his foot last week and has been replaced by Valentine Holmes, who is returning from suspension. Christian Welch is out of the side after suffering a head injury on Wednesday and is replaced by Dunamis Lui, who makes his Origin debut. The final change is Coen Hess being dropped from the side. Jaydn Su’A moves into the starting side, with Moeaki Fotuaika (in the number 17 jersey) making his Origin debut.
1. Valentine Holmes 2. Xavier Coates 3. Kurt Capewell 4. Dane Gagai 5. Phillip Sami 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Dunamis Lui 9. Jake Friend 10. Josh Papalii 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Jaydn Su’A 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleuai. Interchange: 14. Ben Hunt 15. Lindsay Collins 16. Jai Arrow 17. Moeaki Fotuaika.
BATTLE TO WATCH
After a big performance from the Queensland halves in the opening game last week, it’s time for the New South Wales halves to respond: if they don’t, it could be all over the for the Blues. The Queensland halves were given way too much room to operate, and it shows in the stats, as both Munster and Cherry-Evans were allowed to accumulate upwards of 100 metres. Luke Keary, who just pushed 100 metres, was the only New South Wales half to do so. The New South Wales halves pairing of Walker and Nathan Cleary should provide a smoother play style as Walker is happy to sit back and allow his partner to dominate the play-calling whilst he roams around and waits for his opportunity to pounce.
The Blues looked like a different side in attack when Walker came on in game one and they’ll be hoping for much of the same this Wednesday in front of their home crowd in Sydney. The pressure will be on Cleary, who has yet to play a defining game in his six Origin appearances; after the grand final loss two weeks ago, many have been calling for him to be rested. It’ll be up to Walker and Cleary to get this Blues side home, making sure that game three is a decider. For Munster and Cherry-Evans, it’ll be business as usual as they aim to seal the series before they head home to Brisbane to play in front of a raging Queensland crowd.
New South Wales should respond accordingly and make game three in Brisbane the series decider.
New South Wales by eight points.
Date: Wednesday, November 11
Venue: ANZ Stadium
Kick-off: 8:10pm (NSW), 7:10pm (QLD)