The New South Wales Blues have named an unchanged side for the second game of the 2017 State of Origin series, as you would expect after an impressive 28-4 victory in Queensland’s backyard.
Though you could always argue that only an injury should force a change to a winning side, the truth is, every Blues player performed well in Brisbane, making selections for Game 2 a very quick and easy process.
1. James Tedesco
‘Teddy’ seems to enjoy the Origin arena. In the two games he’s played, he’s been absolutely outstanding.
He wouldn’t have been far behind Andrew Fifita for man-of-the-match honours in the opening game, and though he is often lauded for his attacking ability, it was his brilliant coverage in defense that really stood out in Brisbane.
2. Blake Ferguson
Though he got caught out by Cooper Cronk once in defense with a pinpoint kick, he was otherwise very solid in defense and attack, and his size and strength is always something opposition teams need to prepare for.
He gave his forwards some breathers with his hit-ups, and like may of his teammates, will simply be expected to deliver more of the same in Game 2.
3. Josh Dugan
Though he was a little quiet in attack, Dugan was very good in defense and silenced the doubters who thought he’d be found out by playing out of position in the centres.
Instead he was yet another sturdy brick in the Blues wall. NSW will, however, look to get him more attacking opportunities in Sydney.
4. Jarryd Hayne
Much like his fellow centre Dugan in game one, the concern with Hayne for this match is that he did make a few mistakes in defense in Origin I.
The Maroons try came soon after Hayne went for an intercept. Queensland will have identified Hayne as a potential weak link they can exploit, so he can expect to be tested often.
5. Brett Morris
He’s become a dependable selection for the Blues, as you can expect the Bulldogs winger to make few mistakes in attack or defense, while also relieving his forwards with valuable hit-ups early in the tackle count.
When given space, he’s still got some toe as well.
6. James Maloney
His support play in Game 1 was one of the highlights for the Blues, and he also did a masterful job of leading the team around the paddock, especially when Mitchell Pearce was forced off the field with concussion.
His defense will always be a talking point, but if the Maroons don’t exploit it, it will remain a moot one.
7. Mitchell Pearce
Pearce was having a solid game before a Will Chambers high shot ended his night in Brisbane.
While I originally questioned why he kept kicking to the right corner, his accuracy ensured that the Maroons were starting their sets deep in their own territory and against the sideline. It was a tactic, and it worked.
He’ll be hoping to play the full 80 minutes at Homebush, and win his first Origin series.
8. Aaron Woods
I can’t quite shake the notion that Woods makes soft metres.
It very well may be that I have a bias against the Tigers forward that I need to get over, but I’d love to see him make some stronger runs, harder yards and much quicker play-the-balls.
9. Nathan Peats
Peats was absolutely brilliant on debut for the Blues. His defense was outstanding, his service sensational, and his intensity perfect for Origin.
Needless to say, he was very good in his first game, and all he needs to do his replicate his performance.
10. Andrew Fifita
I wrote last time that Fifita is one of the few front-rowers in rugby league history that can be a game-winner, is hard to bring down, and can pop balls away after he has drawn multiple defenders.
Considering how often I’m wrong, you’ll allow me a moment to gloat, because that’s exactly how you would describe his Suncorp Stadium efforts.
11. Josh Jackson
Jackson usually goes a little unnoticed compared to his teammates, but I thought he was a touch quiet in the first game.
Mind you, he was rock solid and dependable, and that’s what you want – and get – from Jackson. He’s replaced Ryan Hoffman as the automatic “7 out of 10 guy” in the Blues pack.
12. Boyd Cordner (c)
The skipper played the full 80 minutes and led by example all game long. Athletic and with a powerful motor, the Rooster is brutal in defense and penetrating in attack.
The perfect modern day second-rower. He also backed up with a similar performance at club level a few days later, showing his leadership and greatness.
13. Tyson Frizell
Frizell looked very dangerous running on the edges, and tackled with might.
Looks every bit the Origin player, and along with Jackson and Cordner, forms an incredibly strong backrow for the Blues. A ball of muscle.
14. David Klemmer
As ever, made his presence felt when he entered the game. He made the Maroons feel him in attack and defense, and he’s the perfect interchange forward for the Blues.
His intensity is perfectly suited to Origin, and he was well used by Laurie Daley in game I.
15. Wade Graham
Having x-factor on your bench is a valuable commodity, and that’s exactly what Graham provided NSW.
Added an extra dimension in attack when he came on, as his unique combination of size and skill troubled the Maroons on a number of occasions, and led to points for the Blues.
16. Jake Trbojevic
Trbojevic showed he belonged at this level with a number of strong carries and some brilliant line defense.
You’d think he’d be even better for the hit-out, and will play even better in Sydney, which is a truly scary thought for Queensland.
17. Jack Bird
The concussion laws ensure it’s a wise move to have a replacement back on the bench, and that proved to be the case when the Blues lost Pearce to Disneyland.
Bird slotted into five-eighth and performed well, but if he’s freed to have a more attacking role in Game 2, we’ll really see how talented and dangerous he really can be.