It feels like a long time ago that New South Wales won game one of the 2013 State Of Origin series in Sydney. Unfortunately it didn’t take too long for the Blues to go from being on a high from winning the opening game to having to deal with one crisis after another.
With Jarryd Hayne’s hamstring injury, James Tamou’s drink driving charge which lead to his suspension, and then Blake Ferguson also being suspended after being named for game two….Laurie Daley has had a lot to deal with these last few weeks!
All of it has seen the New South Wales side coming together with a number of forced changes, less than ideal after coming off a solid win.
The Queenslanders have had things a little easier. Sure Mal Meninga managed to attack players who get themselves into trouble with alcohol just hours before he got kicked out of a pub for thinking he can got behind the bar and pour his own drinks, but outside of that the Queenslanders have kept a very low profile.
The Maroons made a few changes of there own with Dave Shillington and Ashley Harrison both dropped. Some people have used these changes as a reason to attack the Maroons. Personally these changes worry me. I think they make Queensland a better looking side.
Nathan Merritt and Aaron Woods will both make their State Of Origin debuts for New South Wales while Josh Papalii and Daly Cherry-Evans also earn their first starts in the Origin arena for the Maroons.
Of course, what we have been talking about for a long time is if there will be a fight in this game…
The bad blood is there, there’s no doubt about that. Neither side has been willing to concede anything since game one. Gorden Tallis has spend the last couple of weeks whinging about the Paul Gallen vs Nate Myles incident and it all looked like game two of the series was going to resemble the WWE Royal Rumble.
Then NRL CEO David Smith stepped in…
With players that throw punches now being automatically sent to the Sin Bin, neither side can really afford to throw down in game two. That will probably take something away from the game, but it could also mean that the hits are more brutal than they were in game one of the series.
So how do I see this game playing out?
I really like the changes Queensland have made to their side. I think they will be a little more mobile and a lot more dangerous on the edges. Ben Te’o, Chris McQueen, Matt Gillett and Josh Papalii really need to step up in this game. The Queensland pack was dominated in game one. They lacked any real punch. If the Maroons can get something from their forward rotation they should win the contest.
I worry about the players New South Wales have brought in. I don’t trust Josh Dugan at all and I’m not convinced that Aaron Woods will have the impact up front that New South Wales need against Queensland. I haven’t got any concerns about Nathan Merritt, I think he will play really well.
I don’t think we will see the same great start from New South Wales that we saw in game one. I think Queensland will be the ones getting off to a flier this time around. With the capacity crowd behind them and the Maroons pumped up, it will be interesting to see how New South Wales responds if this happens.
The key player for New South Wales in my opinion is James Maloney. He played well in Origin one and he really needs to fire and control the game for the Blues if New South Wales is going to pose any threat to Queensland.
For the Maroons, Cameron Smith needs to break the shackles that were put on him in game one by the Blues marker defense. Smith was kept quiet in the first game and it put the brakes on the rest of the Queensland side. He needs to fire in this second game.
The big X Factor in this game is Greg Inglis. He needs to go in field looking for the ball in this second game. If I was Mal Meninga and Queensland need a spark, I wouldn’t hesitate to move Slater to the wing and have Inglis move to fullback to force him to get more involved.
All of the rubbish about the way the game will be refereed doesn’t mean much really. I don’t think we will see anything different from game one.
I hate to say it, but I think Queensland will be too good in game two. I think all of the changes New South Wales have made will effect them just enough to tip the scales in the Maroons favour. Throw in the home field advantage and the knowledge that if they lose the game, they lose their first State Of Origin series in seven years on their home turf, and I can’t see all the champion players in this Queensland side having another quiet game.
I think Queensland will win a defensive battle 8-4.