Whenever NSW lose an Origin there’s so much commentary on which players need to be dropped or brought in, now the shoe’s now on the other foot with Queensland needing to make changes.
After such an emphatic 44-12 win on Sunday night in Perth, I can’t see how they’re going to be able to go into game three with the same squad.
The Blues only lost by six in game one but there was so much scrutiny about their selections so the Maroons will need to change things up because NSW now have a blueprint on how they can finish the job in game three on July 13.
I know they like to stick with loyalty but it’ll be interesting to see if they do after such a convincing win by the Blues. I would imagine they’d have to make some changes.
NSW look like they’re following their path of 2019 when they lost the first game, made a bunch of changes for a game in Perth that worked and then carried that momentum into the decider.
That game was in Sydney and this time the decider is in Brisbane so having the game back at Suncorp Stadium will be massive for the Maroons but they can’t just rely on the home ground factor to turn things around after what we saw in Perth.
Brad Fittler was criticised a lot for making seven changes to his team for game two but he trusts his brains trust of Greg Alexander, Paul McGregor and Danny Buderus and their moves were totally justified in the end.
I wrote after game one that I’d like to see Api Koroisau brought into the team and that worked wonders. For him to play the first 34 minutes straight in his first starting game at Origin level was an amazing effort.
He provided plenty of spark for the Blues to get on the front foot and then when Damien Cook came on, he capitalised off the back of that.
Jake Trbojevic’s return to the side was also a masterstroke. He’s not a superstar athlete that’s going to change a game with his athleticism by breaking the line and running 40 metres to beat the fullback.
But what he brings to the team as far as leadership, passion and work ethic defensively and in attack is priceless. He doesn’t often rank highly in the metres gained but he takes the tough carries, finds his front, can ball-play when needed and is so valued as a teammate.
One of the other main differences between the two games was Nathan Cleary’s performance. He was great from start to finish and with his kicking game, I noticed NSW had a few more blockers in place to protect him from Queensland’s defensive pressure from marker.
NSW were more dominant with their play-the-balls which helped create more space for him to work his magic with the boot.
Freddy came out after Origin I to complain about how the Maroons were slowing the ruck and I’ve seen some footage since then that shows how much Queensland were taking advantage of holding NSW down in tackles.
It was quite ridiculous. If it was an NRL game there would have been penalties all over the place.
Origin is great when there’s not as many penalties blown but Queensland were pushing the envelope.
I thought the Maroons actually got a few leg-up penalties working their way out of yardage in game two and I don’t think they can complain too much about Felise Kaufusi getting sin-binned just before half-time.
It was warranted. Clearly it was their tactic again to slow the play-the-ball down and Kaufusi basically had Junior Paulo’s head between his knees for a long time as he was trying to get up.
Freddy highlighted the tactic after game one and whether that has had an influence on the referees, only they would know.
Even though Latrell Mitchell and Jack Wighton are probably going to be available for game three, I wouldn’t be making any changes if I was picking the NSW team. Matt Burton played great in his first Origin game at left centre and his kicking game was a point of difference.
Wighton was one of our best in game one and I’m a big fan of what he brings but it’s going to be tough to change that team.
There’s a little bit of water to go under the bridge with the next NRL round before they have to pick the team on Sunday night so we will see what happens.
If Payne Haas’ ankle injury is serious, I’d be looking at giving Jacob Saifiti a go as one of the props. He’s been magnificent for Newcastle the past 18 months and he was in the extended squad for the first match so I reckon he’d be ready to step up.
The Blues’ record in series deciders in Brisbane is not great but they’ll have plenty of footage to study when they go into camp for game three about how they can repeat the dose from Perth to clinch the series.