Andrew Pelechaty previews the second Origin of 2022, played at Perth’s Optus Stadium …
New South Wales Blues Vs Queensland Maroons
Venue: Optus Stadium, Perth
Date: Sunday June 26, 7:50pm AEST (5:50pm AWST)
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Blues: 1. James Tedesco (c) (Sydney Roosters), 2. Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers), 3. Matt Burton (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), 4. Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers), 5. Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters), 6. Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers), 7. Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers), 8. Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos), 9. Apisai Koroisau (Penrith Panthers), 10. Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), 11. Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 12. Liam Martin (Penrith Panthers), 13. Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers), 14. Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 15. Angus Crichton (Sydney Roosters), 16. Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels), 17. Siosifa Talakai (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), 18. Nicho Hynes (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), 19. Joseph Suaalii (Sydney Roosters), 20. Jordan McLean (North Queensland Cowboys), 21. Clint Gutherson (Parramatta Eels), 22. Victor Radley (Sydney Roosters). Coach: Brad Fittler.
Big changes for the Blues for game two, with Matt Burton, Stephen Crichton, Apisai Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic and Cameron Murray all included. Tariq Sims, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Ryan Matterson have been omitted.
Burton was a replacement for Canberra’s Jack Wighton (ruled out under COVID-19 protocols), and a fine reward for his form with Canterbury-Bankstown.
Jake Trbojevic starts at prop alongside Payne Haas, while Sydney Roosters forward Angus Crichton has been named on the bench, as has Cronulla-Sutherland wrecking ball Siosifa Talakai (the fifth NSW debutant this series). His Sharks teammates Nicholas Hynes is 18th Man.Embed from Getty Images
Maroons: 1. Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights), 2. Selwyn Cobbo (Brisbane Broncos), 3. Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys), 4. Dane Gagai (Newcastle Knights), 5. Murray Taulagi (North Queensland Cowboys), 6. Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm), 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles), 8. Lindsay Collins (Sydney Roosters), 9. Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), 10. Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders), 11. Kurt Capewell (Brisbane Broncos), 12. Felise Kaufusi (Melbourne Storm), 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Gold Coast Titans), 14. Harry Grant (Melbourne Storm), 15. Jai Arrow (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 16. Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos), 17. Jeremiah Nanai (North Queensland Cowboys), 18. Tom Dearden (North Queensland Cowboys), 19. Thomas Flegler (Brisbane Broncos), 20. Beau Fermor (Gold Coast Titans), 21. Corey Oates (Brisbane Broncos), 22. Reece Walsh (Warriors). Coach: Billy Slater.
Xavier Coates, Reuben Cotter, and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow are all unavailable due to injury, with Corey Oates, Beau Fermor, and Reece Walsh into the squad as reserves.
Murray Taulagi replaces Coates, while Lindsay Collins replaces Cotter.
South Sydney’s Jai Arrow returns on the bench where he joins Patrick Carrigan, Jeremiah Nanai, and Harry Grant.
North Queensland’s Tom Dearden stays as 18th Man.
Referee: Ashley Klein
After last year’s crushing series win, many expected NSW to continue their run in 2022, especially with seven players from the almost untouchable Penrith Panthers in the Blues side.
But Queensland did a Queensland and upset the Blues in game one at Homebush, giving Billy Slater a Fatty Vautin-esque strike-rate of one-from-one.
The Maroons dominated, cancelling out Jack Wighton’s earlier try with tries to Dane Gagai, Daly Cherry-Evans, and Valentine for a 16-4 advantage after 53 minutes. While NSW got one back through Cameron Murray with nine minutes left, Queensland kept their six-point lead intact.
Some might say that NSW pushed the panic button with so many changes (not counting Wighton’s COVID-19 omission, which is hard luck for the Blues and Raiders), though there’s some quality inclusions: Burton, Crichton, Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic, and Murray. More importantly, they still have their core of Panthers available (Koroisau, Jarome Luai, Brian To’o, Liam Martin, Nathan Cleary, Stephen Crichton, and Isaah Yeo).
By contrast, Queensland’s changes are injury-enforced.
So, who has the advantage here? While this is technically a Blues home game, Optus Stadium is more of a neutral venue than the MCG is (which is an unofficial Queensland home game due to the Storm’s longstanding Maroons connection and Victoria’s general hatred of all things NSW).
The Blues won the first game at Optus Stadium in 2019 (38-6). The crowd of 59,721 was briefly their biggest attendance before it was beaten by the 2019 Bledisloe Cup (61,241), with the 2021 Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs Grand Final a close second (61,118). With the NRL bigwigs looking for the 18th team, another huge crowd could help Perth’s chances.
With a 1-0 lead, Queensland have an ace up their sleeve: the Lang Park decider. Queensland would love to win here and turn that Lang Park game into a celebration.
NSW have to win here to keep the series alive, but will that desperation on its own be enough? Even with their Panthers core?
With winning momentum behind them, less disruption, and the safety net of the third game at Lang Park, Queensland should do enough to wrap up the series in Perth.Embed from Getty Images
This is the fourth Sunday night Origin since the Rep Round/NRL bye was introduced in 2018, with NSW winning all three (though Sunday Origins had previously been played in the early 2000s).
It’s the first Origin played outside of Queensland and NSW since 2020 (Adelaide). Last year’s opening game was meant to be at the MCG, but Melbourne’s latest lockdown meant it was moved to Townsville.
Maroons by four.
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