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Origin 2 teams: How they'll line up - Final squads announced

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26th June, 2022
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Blues coach Brad Fittler has resisted the temptation to make any more changes for his team for Origin II, with both line-ups finalised an hour before kick-off.

Fittler switched Cameron Murray and Junior Paulo to the bench at the last minute for game one but this time around NSW and Queensland remain the same as the line-ups announced at the start of the week.

Nicho Hynes will again be the 18th man for NSW with Tom Dearden on standby for the Maroons. The match is scheduled to kick off at 7.50pm AEST.

From the team which lost 16-10 in Sydney three weeks ago, Fittler has made a raft of changes for Origin II with seven players coming into the travelling squad of 22 for the must-win game in Perth, including recalls for Api Koroisau, Angus Crichton and Jake Trbojevic, along with debuts for Matt Burton and Siosifa Talakai.

Queensland made three changes, all due to injuries with Xavier Coates, Reuben Cotter and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow replaced in the squad by Corey Oates, Beau Fermor and Reece Walsh.

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All three new faces will be on the reserves with Murray Taulagi elevated to the starting side at wing to replace Coates and fellow game-one extended squad member Jai Arrow also being promoted, snaring an interchange berth with Lindsay Collins starting at prop and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui reverting to lock from the front row.

The Blues’ other main surprise was Damien Cook being relegated to the interchange with Koroisau starting while Stephen Crichton has been elevated from the bench to centre alongside Burton with Brisbane’s Kotoni Staggs dropped after a modest debut in game one.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 19: Matt Burton of the Bulldogs celebrates victory with fans after the round 15 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Wests Tigers at CommBank Stadium, on June 19, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Matt Burton. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

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Former NSW coach Phil Gould claimed the Blues were “too Pantherised” in Origin I but they will have more of a Penrith influence in Perth next Sunday with Koroisau added to the interchange to make it seven players from the premiers in the game-day 17 along with Burton, who was part of last year’s grand final win before moving to Canterbury.

Siosifa Talakai is the other debutant for NSW with his versatility of being able to switch between centre, back row and the middle giving Fittler options with his rotation.

Canberra star Jack Wighton is out because he was placed in isolation after contracting COVID-19 while Staggs, Ryan Matterson, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Tariq Sims were dumped with Trbojevic and Angus Crichton welcomed back.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Xavier Coates of the Maroons receives attention after sustaining an injury during game one of the 2022 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on June 08, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Xavier Coates. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Roosters lock Victor Radley and another uncapped forward, Cowboys prop Jordan McLean were named in the extended squad.

The Maroons had a late hiccup with Cotter ruled out for a month after injuring his hamstring in the warm-up for the Cowboys’ recent game at Manly. Tabuai-Fidow failed his HIA after a head knock against the Sea Eagles and was ruled out.

The Maroons are one win away from a shock series win after their 16-10 upset at Accor Stadium in the series opener. The three-match series ends with the finale on Wednesday, July 13 in Brisbane.

Isaah Yeo of the Blues is tackled during game one of the 2022 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on June 08, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Isaah Yeo of the Blues is tackled (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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How they’ll line up

NSW

  1. James Tedesco: Made a whopping 291 run metres in Origin I in a fine captain’s knock with 133 of those coming from kick returns. It appears Queensland deliberately booted the ball away from the wingers, who only had a few kick-return carries between them. 
  2. Brian To’o: Although he didn’t need to cart the ball much from kicks, he still produced 207 run metres and made eight tackle breaks, an equal game-high tally alongside Tedesco. 
  3. Matt Burton: Left centre will be no problem for the Canterbury five-eighth after a season spent there at Penrith where he was the recipient of the combined lead-up work of Jarome Luai and Viliame Kikau.  
  4. Stephen Crichton: He looked a little too anxious to make an impact when he came onto the field for the dumped Kotoni Staggs in game one. However, as he showed with his intercept try in last year’s grand final, his flashes of brilliance can be game-changers.
  5. Daniel Tupou: Did his job in Origin I by making 200-plus metres with a lot of tough carries but until he starts scoring tries or making breaks on a regular basis, Blues fans will keep pining for Josh Addo-Carr. 
  6. Jarome Luai: Did not step up enough in Origin I to help Nathan Cleary. He should have seen early that his halfback was being targeted relentlessly by the Maroons and put his hand up for a few more last-tackle plays to give the Blues some variety and put some doubt in the minds of the rushing Queensland defenders.
  7. Nathan Cleary: He has set standards so high in recent years that when he has an average game, it’s painted as a catastrophe. Whether he stands a little deeper on kicks or darts around behind the dummy-half on receptions before plays, the Blues quarterback needs to create more space for himself to operate.
  8. Payne Haas: NSW lacked go-forward when he was off the park at Accor Stadium. His 58 minutes was the most by the Blues’ middle forwards but expect Brad Fittler to try to squeeze even more game time out of him in Perth.  
  9. Api Koroisau: Promoted to the starting side to become the first NSW No.9 not named Damien Cook since Nathan Peats had the role in 2017. His awareness out of dummy-half of when Cleary, Luai and Isaah Yeo want the ball will be crucial to the Blues’ chances.
  10. Jake Trbojevic: Recalled after a surprise omission for game one, Fittler is going back to his successful formula of a more mobile pack rather than hulking props.
  11. Cameron Murray: Gave the Blues impact off the bench after a last-minute switch in game one but Fittler said it lessened their early effectiveness so don’t expect to see that ploy repeated at Optus Stadium. 
  12. Liam Martin: Played the full 80 minutes in game one and peeled off 50 tackles but only made 31 metres from seven runs. Tilting the balance in favour of more attack will benefit the Blues as he can do damage on the right edge if given decent ball.
  13. Isaah Yeo: Was used four minutes less than Tariq Sims in Origin I and the Maroons were also able to nullify his attacking threat by double-teaming him in defence.

    Interchange
  14. Damien Cook: Relegated to the bench for the first time in what will be his 14th straight Origin for NSW, he has the ability to make an impact if he can get his quick Rabbitohs feet moving out of dummy-half against a tired defensive line.
  15. Angus Crichton: Can play middle or either edge, depending on what’s needed. His form for the Roosters has not been what it was but won’t be overawed by the occasion after getting a recall for the must-win match.
  16. Junior Paulo: Usually when a prop is used just 30 minutes in an Origin, the next step is them losing their spot altogether. Listed to start from the bench gain, Paulo needs to use his power game more in Origin as there is often no time for the fancy stuff he does for Parramatta in the more intense interstate arena.
  17. Siosifa Talakai: The Sharks debutant can do a job for NSW like Jeremiah Nanai did for Queensland in the series opener – he has game-breaking ability which will test the Maroons’ defence on the edge.

    Reserves
  18. Nicho Hynes: Stuck in standby purgatory. If the Blues lose this one, surely they give him a run as the bench utility in what would be a dead rubber in game three.
  19. Joseph Suaalii: There was talk that he may even be given the 18th man role for Origin II and he’s another player that Brad Fittler may consider handing their debut this year rather than next.
  20. Jordan McLean: One of the rare breed of NRL players who have represented Australia in Tests – eight times – but is yet to be given an Origin debut. The Cowboys prop last wore the green and gold in 2018.
  21. Clint Gutherson: Parramatta’s skipper is the perfect player to have in a squad – a team player who will give it his all if called upon.
  22. Victor Radley: Hasn’t played for a month due to an ankle problem but the Rooster insists he’s no lame duck and will train all week and be able to play if there’s a late mishap with one of the chosen forwards.
Valentine Holmes

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Queensland

  1. Kalyn Ponga: Has inherited the backhanded compliment that is “big-game player” from Knights teammate Dane Gagai, which implies he doesn’t give the same value for money at club level. Ask a Newcastle fan, they’ll chew your ear off for an hour about it.
  2. Selwyn Cobbo: Showed no fear in his Origin debut and his quick thinking when presented with a half-chance in the form of a bouncing pass led to Gagai’s momentum-changing try just before half-time.
  3. Valentine Holmes: Scored one try in Sydney and produced the tackle of the match to snuff out another, would have earned his first Origin man of the match award if not for Cameron Munster’s feats.
  4. Dane Gagai: It’s time for his critics to let up. He’s been a top-class Origin player for the best part of a decade and shows no sign of slowing down. Hasn’t missed a game since his debut in Origin III in 2015 as he lines up for his 21st in a Maroons jersey.   
  5. Murray Taulagi: Before you NSW conspiracy theorists rush to put in your protest, this young Cowboy was born in Auckland, played rugby as a kid, grew up dreaming of being an All Black but his family moved to Queensland when he was 11. There will be no repeat of last year’s Ronaldo Mulitalo eligibility dramas.
  6. Cameron Munster: The star five-eighth seemed genuinely bemused by the reaction to his game-one masterclass but he was definitely in the zone with some of his plays. Wally Lewis comparisons are fraught with danger but they were appropriate for the wearer of his famous No.6 jersey.
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans: He’s the dominant kicker in general play but splits the duties with Munster better than their Blues counterparts. DCE took 13 and Munster nine in Origin I while Cleary made himself more of a target by taking 20 for NSW with Luai putting boot to ball just twice. 
  8. Lindsay Collins: Only played 38 minutes in game one off the bench but managed to rack up 22 tackles and gain 133 metres from 12 runs. No surprise then that he was rewarded with a starting spot after Reuben Cotter’s hamstring injury.
  9. Ben Hunt: Surprisingly only played 37 minutes in the first match with Harry Grant taking the other 43 for the hooking role. The Dragons veteran will probably play more, with Grant on the field at the same time, with Cotter not soaking up the full 80 at lock. 
  10. Josh Papalii: Another surprisingly low tally of just 22 minutes in game one. Billy Slater didn’t waste time in getting him off early to get fresh legs out there in the first half when NSW were dominating the early field position. That should motivate Papa to perform from word go in Perth.
  11. Kurt Capewell: Was everywhere, as always, for the Maroons in the 16-10 triumph at Accor Stadium and should be on his way to his first Test jersey at the end of the season.
  12. Felise Kaufusi: Didn’t need a breather in game one and was second only to Cotter’s 51 for tackles made (40). Was still going strong in the final minute to make the last-ditch tackle which denied Isaah Yeo seconds before the siren sounded. Also had the quickest play-the-ball speed of all the Maroons at an average of 2.52 seconds.
  13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui: Switching to lock instead of prop won’t change much, if anything, for big Tino, whose game does not rely on subtleties.  

    Interchange
  14. Harry Grant: Made eight darts out of dummy-half which kept the Blues’ marker defenders guessing and all three tries came when he was on the field, smartly shifting the ball the right way to Ponga on the short side on two occasions. 
  15. Jai Arrow: Back in the good books after a costly breach of Origin biosecurity protocols last year. Such is the impressive crop of young forwards coming through the Queensland ranks that Arrow is no longer a walk-up selection in their line-up.
  16. Patrick Carrigan: Was not overawed by the moment in his Origin debut, in fact he relished the big stage with some rousing runs and thwacking tackles.  
  17. Jeremiah Nanai: It was amazing to see him get back on the field after his ankle injury soon after half-time. He then had a game off for the Cowboys but returned last Friday and continued his happy knack of being at the right place at the right time to score a vital try.

    Reserves
  18. Tom Dearden: He actually got dudded a club game in Origin I. His Cowboys teammates Murray Taulagi and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow were allowed to break game to play for their club but Dearden did not get an exemption as he was listed as 18th man. In the end he was relegated from the standby spot on game day for Jai Arrow.
  19. Tom Flegler: Did well in his Origin III debut last year but probably won’t get a chance this series around unless injuries strike.
  20. Beau Fermor: Has been one of the few shining lights on the Gold Coast this season. The Titans went all out to get him back north of the border from Newcastle a few years ago and he will be part of their long-term nucleus.
  21. Corey Oates: Back to his best at the Broncos after being back in the Queensland Cup last year with 12 tries to be third in the NRL behind Souths winger Alex Johnston and Panthers rookie Taylan May on 14 apiece.
  22. Reece Walsh: Injury cruelled his chance to make his Origin debut last year. Warriors officials should be worried about him being in Maroons camp with all these Queensland-based teammates talking up how good it is to play for a team in the Sunshine State instead of the Land of the Long White Cloud.

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