Queensland is officially in crisis.
Queensland have won eight series in a row, yet will go into State of Origin Game 2 in Sydney as the underdogs.
Being the underdogs is what Queensland prefer and is why they will be dangerous come kick-off.
While there are major injury concerns surrounding Billy Slater and Greg Inglis, as well as Josh Papalii, Cooper Cronk and Corey Parker having been ruled out, the Maroons will still be very strong.
The key for Queensland is Cameron Smith. His unique ability to play out of dummy half is crucial. If they had moved him to the halves, it would have compromised two positions, and having Daly Cherry-Evans play at halfback isn’t bad, he has been the form NRL player this season.
In Origin 1, Queensland struggled to gain ascendancy in the forward pack, and the use of backrowers to play at prop may be something they will look to change. If so, Jacob Lillyman will come into calculations, and with Sam Thaiday back for the game, the Maroons will be up for any physical challenge.
It will be interesting as to the final team chosen, and the balance of the bench. Papalii under-performed in Game 1 and saved Mal Meninga from a tough call by being injured. Generally the Maroons have played a utility cover off the bench, a role filled by Karmichael Hunt, Cooper Cronk and most recently Cherry-Evans. With Cherry-Evans to play halfback, it will be interesting to see if Ben Hunt or Anthony Milford are promoted to a similar role.
It is conceivable that the bench will be forward dominated and neither will play. Alternatively, if Cherry-Evans is out, then both may play as neither is an adequate replacement for DCE or Cronk on their own.
Greg Inglis’ left side combination with Darius Boyd is unstoppable, and they will be expected to provide a lot of the attacking intent. Without the Morris twins running down that side, defence should be somewhat easier, as the makeshift NSW opposites of Josh Dugan and Will Hopoate are not going to cause the same problems.
An important point to note though is that Queensland only conceded two tries in Game 1. One was an unusual try to Jarryd Hayne, who rolled his way to the line, and the other off a break by Hayne finished by the Morris boys. The key clearly is to ensure Jarryd Hayne is marked closely, as a lot of the attack will go through him. If Hayne is nullified, more pressure will go on Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson to make the plays.
Queensland without Cronk and potentially DCE will be looking to win the game in the forwards. If they can draw the Blues into a forward-dominated battle, it could starve the Blues backs of ball.
Most importantly for Queensland is they know how to win. Having won eight series in a row, they know what is required and that can go a long way to getting the victory.
Despite losing the first game, the Maroons weren’t far off. With all the injuries they have suffered, many have written off Queensland, and that is just the way they like it.