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2021 State of Origin Game Two Preview, QLD Vs NSW

Andrew Pelechaty previews the second Origin game, this time at Suncorp Stadium, where Queensland wrapped up last year’s series. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Date: Sunday, June 27, Time: 7:50pm

Maroons Team

1. Reece Walsh
2. Valentine Holmes
3. Kurt Capewell
4. Dane Gagai
5. Kyle Feldt
6. Cameron Munster
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Christian Welch
9. Andrew McCullough
10. Josh Papalii
11. Jai Arrow
12. Felise Kaufusi
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14. Ben Hunt
15. Moeaki Fotuaika
16. David Fifita
17. Francis Molo
18. Coen Hess
19. Ronaldo Mulitalo

Team Changes

IN: Andrew McCullough, Coen Hess, Francis Molo, Josh Papalii, Reece Walsh, Ronaldo Mulitalo

OUT: Alexander Brimson, Harry Grant, Jaydn Su’A, Joe Ofahengaue, Xavier Coates

Blues Team

1. James Tedesco
2. Brian To’o
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Tom Trbojevic
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Jarome Laui
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Daniel Saifiti
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Cameron Murray
12. Tariq Sims
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Jack Wighton
15. Angus Crichton
16. Payne Haas
17. Liam Martin
18. Apisai Koroisau
19. Campbell Graham
20. Dale Finucane

Team Changes

IN: Angus Crichton, Campbell Graham, Dale Finucane


OUT:
Jake Trbojevic

Referee: Gerard Sutton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Maroons

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Queensland will be grateful to return to Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park) after a nightmare Origin opener in Townsville. While they had the home state advantage, it didn’t matter, as NSW belted them 50-6. But anyone who’s paid attention to Origin’s history will be aware that – no matter how bad things look – Queenslanders never stay down for long.

Queensland have cleaned the decks, with Reece Walsh (NZ Warriors) and Frank Molo (North Queensland) debuting. Andrew McCullough (St George Illawarra) returns to the Maroons, replacing the injured Harry Grant.

Veteran Josh Papalii (Canberra) returns after missing game one through suspension, while David Fifita (Gold Coast) has been dropped to the bench, with Coen Hess and Ronaldo Mulitalo on the extended bench.

Blues

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After a disappointing 2020 Origin, Freddy stacked him team with in-form Panthers for Origin one this year (Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Brian To’o, Isaiah Yeo, Liam Martin, Apisai Korisau) and it paid off. While a weakened Penrith suffered in the interim (losing to the Wests Tigers and Cronulla-Sutherland to sacrifice first place on the ladder), it was for the greater good as NSW destroyed Queensland in Origin One. On a side note, it was probably just as well the game was moved, as Melbourne was wet, windy, and miserable for most of that Wednesday (day and night), so a tight, dour game probably would have resulted.

By contrast, NSW flourished in the beautiful Townsville climate, scoring eight tries (leading 20-6 at half-time), with a hat-trick to Tom Trbjoevic, and doubles to Brian To’o and Latrell Mitchell, while Nathan Cleary (8/8) and Mitchell (1/1) were perfect with the boot. It was quite a shock considering two out of the three games last year were pretty tight.

NSW have made three changes for Lang Park, with Angus Crichton (Sydney Roosters) and Dale Finucane (Melbourne Storm) joining the squad, while Campbell Graham (South Sydney) is on the extended bench. Crichton returns after missing game one through suspension, while Fincuane played two games in last year’s series.

The big omission is Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah), which picked up a hip pointer injury at Sea Eagles training.

PREVIEW

The big factor in this game could be Walsh, how NSW target him, and how he responds.

While Walsh has been superb for the Warriors, throwing him into Origin after just seven first grade games is a risky move, especially at fullback.

No doubt Nathan Cleary will target Walsh with testing bombs, hoping to exploit the young man’s nerves. The question is how will Walsh react? If he passes the early test, his confidence will rise, which will only help Queensland. But, if he struggles early, than Cleary won’t let up, which will give NSW a big advantage – either territoriality (with Queensland forced to start their sets pressed on their tryline) or with attacking sets from short range.

To counter this, Queensland will be relying on Papalii to provide a calming influence. He’s been solid for Canberra since his return, which is a good sign for Queensland.

NSW will be full of confidence after their game one win, while their Penrith contingent tuned up with a huge round 15 win over the Sydney Roosters, with the Panthers scoring 38 straight points against the Eastern Suburbs side.

KEY STAT

Queensland’s dominance at Lang Park is striking: in 56 games, they have 36 wins to 19, with one draw.
Queensland clinched the series at Lang Park in 2020, and NSW haven’t won there since 2017.

PREDICTION

Queensland will be desperate, refreshed, and embiggined by a parochial Lang Park crowd. Yet, NSW will be full of confidence after Townsville and their Penrith contingent are firing. That should be enough, though it’ll be a lot closer this time.

Blues by four.

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