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The beauty of Hynesight: What changes do the Blues need to make in Game 2?

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Roar Rookie
10th June, 2024
18

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Queenslander or Blueslander, when your team loses there are always shouts for changes. But is that always the answer?

My understanding is that it takes more than one game to be an Origin player. Most people need at least two or three games to prove that they belong on that stage. Why do Queensland tend to pick and stick? My guess is that they know it takes time to build an Origin player because, like most things in life, experience is the greatest teacher.

I think that if NSW are to go on and win this series, then the strength of the team will have been forged in the fire of a 12-man, 72-minute effort in State of Origin Game I.

People are usually too quick to point the finger at someone straight after a loss, and usually it’s a player. But in my opinion, in State of Origin, I feel that the lion’s share of responsibility falls on the coach.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 05: Joseph-Aukuso Sua'ali'i of the Blues is sent off by referee Ashley Klein during game one of the 2024 Men's State of Origin Series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on June 05, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)Joseph Suaalii. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)[/caption]
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After one game as NSW head coach, is anyone calling for Michael Maguire to be shafted like some inexperienced Blues players? Of course not! Maguire just needs to learn from Game I and come back smarter and stronger.

I believe that unless there are injuries, then very few changes are needed for Game II. The Blues players all deserve a shot at redemption. But that doesn’t mean that they will all get it.

The first change I think Michael Maguire needs to make is to his coaching staff. Madge needs to bring in a halves consultant. Andrew and Matty Johns spring to mind, but Brett Kimmorley and James Maloney are another couple of good options.

The next tactic I think they need to re-visit would be their defensive strategy. Game I wasn’t the best indication, but we saw how the threat of speed, in particular Reece Walsh, forced a costly error from a Blues defender, and also from that same play, a line break for Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.

Plus, the Blues had their full complement when Queensland scored their first try in the fourth minute. I’m not saying the Blues’ defence was brittle, and Madge may decide just to reload the same defensive tactics.

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The NSW Game II squad will be announced after Round 15 and as we all know, a lot can happen between now and then. There was a lot to like about the Blues performance after the send off, so in my opinion, only minor changes are required.

After the dust settles, what should the NSW Squad for Game II look like?

Forced changes

Suaalii won’t play in Game II so the Blues need to find a replacement. I believe there are two clear options. Latrell Mitchell comes in at left centre or Zac Lomax moves to centre with Jacob Kiraz coming into the side on the wing. Madge overlooked Izack Tago and Jesse Ramien in Game I and I don’t think a must-win Game II in Melbourne is the right time for either of them to debut. I would not select Matt Burton to start at centre either. We all remember Burton playing centre for Penrith in 2021 but that was three years ago and NSW are better served if Matt starts at five-eighth or on the bench. Personally, I think the time is right to take the Ferrari out of the garage and pick Mitchell at centre for Game II.

Unforced changes

Dylan Edwards comes back into the team at fullback if he is fit. Mitchell Moses, Cameron Murray and Connor Watson could force their way into this squad but who will make way if they do? Maquire must also decide if he supports his halves choices or if he changes one or both of his starting halves for Game II.

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Maguire must make one change to his bench. If Madge wants to continue with four forwards on the pine, then I would select Cameron Murray to take Hudson Young’s place on the interchange rotation. Or if the Blues go with a utility on the bench, then I would prefer Matt Burton to get the No.17 jersey, but Maguire might prefer the utility value of Connor Watson to get Young’s position so he can cover more bases.

Now for the halves. Mitchell Moses would have been there Game I if he was available, so I think he gets the No.7 jersey and his kicking game is better than Hynes and Luai’s. Unfortunately, Madge now must decide to keep Luai or Hynes as his No.6 and drop the other from the squad. I would have no problem with either player being there for Game II and I’m not writing off Nicho, even though I know some people have. So I believe this decision will have to wait until after Round 15.

NSW Blues head coach Michael Maguire poses for a photograph during the 2024 State of Origin Series Launch at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 16, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

NSW Blues head coach Michael Maguire. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

My Blues Game II squad

1. Dylan Edwards
2. Brian To’o
3. Stephen Crichton
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Zac Lomax
6. Jarome Luai / Nicho Hynes
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Jake Trbojevic (C)
9. Reece Robson
10. Payne Haas
11. Liam Martin
12. Angus Crichton
13. Cameron McInnes
14. Isaah Yeo
15. Haumole Olakau’atu
16. Spencer Leniu
17. Cameron Murray / Matt Burton / Connor Watson
18. Matt Burton / Cameron Murray / Connor Watson
19. Mitch Barnett
20. Jacob Kiraz

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