Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin, Game 2 preview: It’s all on the line – for both teams!

 

 

After last week’s surprise Maroons win in Adelaide, it’s all on the line tomorrow night in Sydney. The injury toll from Game 1 gives this week’s clash a quite different look and so we’re back at square one in trying to work out how it might unfold.

 

Of greatest significance is the situation with regard to Boyd Cordner. Thank goodness common sense has prevailed and Cordner will bypass the rest of the series. He’s too good a player and his health is too important to risk his participation either this week or next. We can only hope that the best decisions are made about his long-term prospects. Footy is only a game in a passing phase of our existence; our health is with us for life.

 

As well as Cordner, Cameron Murray is gone (hamstring) and Luke Keary has been dropped from the Blues team while AJ Brimson (foot) and Christian Welch (head knock) are out of the Queensland side. Kurt Capewell, a star in his Origin debut, is still under a cloud. In the end, NSW has made as many as six changes in either personnel or positions while Queensland has made four.

 

The key change, in my mind, is the selection of Cody Walker at No. 6 for NSW in place of Luke Keary who has been omitted from the 17.  Walker looked the goods when he came on last week, providing energy, direction and shape to the Blues’ attack. What makes Walker dangerous is that he can play to a team’s structure as well as instinctively. Ditched after one Origin game last year, he’ll return a more experienced and wiser player.

 

Interestingly, NSW has gone for a bench packed with forwards. Dale Finucane returns to the team – why wasn’t he in their run-on side from the very start of the series? Nathan Brown and Isaah Yeo earn debuts, both deservedly. But the risk is that any significant injury to one of the backs throws it all out of whack. Is that a good idea when you’re down 0-1 and have to win?

 

By comparison, Queensland looks more settled but face the prospect of playing in Sydney where their record in recent years has not been all that strong. Did they learn enough last week to carry over into tomorrow night? How much better will they have to be to contain a NSW side that will throw absolutely everything at them? Do they have the steel to resist, hold and then overcome? As I said last week, opportunity presents itself to this youth-heavy outfit to make their mark.

 

As I see it, Nathan Cleary, Jack Wighton and Tyson Frizell have to be much better than last week and Walker has to make an immediate impact if NSW is to win. For the Maroons, Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster must also have early influence off the back of Josh Papalii and the forward pack to sew doubt into the Blues’ minds. Valentine Holmes brings the same energetic x-factor we saw from Brimson last week. The Maroons have the ability out wide to take advantage of opportunities.

 

As usual, it becomes a battle between the heart and the head. The heart says it’s 1995 all over again; the head fears a repeat of 2019. Cold, hard logic (not always the best factor to rely on when it comes to Origin) says NSW at home comfortably. I’ll be more than happy to accumulate more egg on my face come full-time.

 

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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au

Comments

  1. Hopefully, lots of egg on your face, Ian!

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