Can these four rookies save Queensland?
Queensland have made seven changes to the team that lost the series opener 28-4 to New South Wales in Game One in Brisbane, ahead of Game 2 of the Holden State of Origin Series at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
Veteran players Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston have been recalled as expected, while Gold Coast’s Jarrod Wallace, North Queensland’s Coen Hess, Cronulla’s Valentine Holmes and Melbourne’s Tim Glasby will make their Origin debut. North Queensland’s Gavin Cooper was also recalled after debuting off the bench in Game 3 last year. Long serving players Sam Thaiday, Nate Myles, Jacob Lillyman, Aidan Guerra, Justin O’Neill, Corey Oates and debutant from Game 1, Anthony Milford, have all been dropped.
Slater returns as fullback which means Darius Boyd will shift to centre, a position he hasn’t played in almost a decade. Holmes takes the spot of Oates on one wing, while Dane Gagai retains his spot on the other wing. Johnathan Thurston slots straight back in for the injured Milford, while Cooper gets his first starting opportunity alongside Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire in the back row. Wallace will team up with Dylan Napa to form the front row, while Hess and Glasby will debut off the bench along with Michael Morgan and Josh Papalii. Melbourne Storm Five-Eighth, Cameron Munster has been added to the squad as 18th man.
Emerging players, Andrew McCullough, and Ben Hunt (both Brisbane) were called in to train with the squad on Friday.
Queensland face a must win situation here, to force a deciding match at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane in three weeks time.
The NSW Blues have only made one change, although the 17 stays the same. Manly’s Tom Trbojevic replaces Melbourne’s Jordan McLean as a shadow player, who is sidelined with injury.
NSW Skipper, Boyd Cordner, has the chance to be the first Captain since Danny Buderus of 2004, to win the series in their first as Captain. It’s also a the chance for NSW to clinch win the series for the first time since 2014, and just the second time since 2005.
NSW Prop, Andrew Fifita was a force to be reckoned with for the Maroons in Game 1, and was named man of the match, and will be looking to build on that in Sydney.
Blues second rower, Josh Jackson told NRL.com that he is wary of the danger of this new look Queensland side, especially the four debutants.
“I’d imagine it would be a pretty nervous thing, particularly being one game down but on the other side of that, they bring a lot of energy to the team which is dangerous…I guess no one knows if you’re ready for Origin unless you throw yourself in there and see how you go”.
“Hess is a big body and a confident young kid so I’m sure he will do well. He can be dangerous and we’ve seen with the ball in his hand he can score tries so he’s a danger man for sure”.
“Jimmy (James Maloney) and Mitch (Mitchell Pearce) are going to have to be ready for him” Jackson said
Jackson is confident that the Blues can seal the series with another strong performance on Wednesday.
(Quick Recap of Game 1
NSW 28: James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jarryd Hayne, James Tedesco, Andrew Fifita tries, James Maloney 4 goals
Queensland 4 Corey Oates try, at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane) Man of the Match: Andrew Fifita
STATE OF ORIGIN GAME 2. WEDNESDAY JUNE 21, ANZ STADIUM, SYDNEY. KICK-OFF 8.10PM
NSW: 1 James Tedesco (Wests Tigers, 2 Origins), 2 Brett Morris (Canterbury-Bankstown, 13 Origins) 3 Josh Dugan (St George Illawarra, 10 Origins) 4 Jarryd Hayne (Gold Coast, 21 Origins) 5 Blake Ferguson (Sydney Roosters, 5 Origins) 6 James Maloney (Cronulla, 7 Origins) 7 Mitchell Pearce (Sydney Roosters, 16 Origins) 8 Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers, 12 Origins) 9 Nathan Peats (Gold Coast, 1 Origin) 10 Andrew Fifita (Cronulla, 8 Origins) 11 Josh Jackson (Canterbury-Bankstown, 7 Origins) 12 Boyd Cordner (C, Sydney Roosters, 7 Origins) 13 Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra, 3 Origins)
Interchange: 14 David Klemmer (Canterbury-Bankstown, 7 Origins) 15 Wade Graham (Cronulla, 2 Origins) 16 Jake Trbojevic (Manly, 1 Origin) 17 Jack Bird (Cronulla, 3 Origins).
18th man Tom Trbojevic (Manly, 0 Origins) 19th man Matt Moylan (Penrith, 3 Origins) 20th man Jack de Belin (St George Illawarra, 0 Origins)
Coach Laurie Daley
Queensland: 1 Billy Slater (Melbourne, 27 Origins), 2 Valentine Holmes (Cronulla, 0 Origins) 3 Will Chambers (Melbourne, 5 Origins) 4 Darius Boyd (Brisbane, 27 Origins) 5 Dane Gagai (Newcastle, 5 Origins) 6 Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland, 36 Origins) 7 Cooper Cronk (Melbourne, 20 Origins) 8 Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters, 1 Origin) 9 Cameron Smith (C, Melbourne, 40 Origins) 10 Jarrod Wallace (Gold Coast, 0 Origins) 11 Gavin Cooper (North Queensland, 1 Origin) 12 Matt Gillett (Brisbane, 16 Origins) 13 Josh McGuire (Brisbane, 6 Origins)
Interchange: 14 Michael Morgan (North Queensland, 6 Origins) 15 Josh Papalii (8 Origins) 16 Coen Hess (North Queensland, 0 Origins) 17 Tim Glasby (Melbourne, 0 Origins) 18th man Cameron Munster (Melbourne, 0 Origins)
Coach Kevin Walters