NSW can wrap up just their second series win since 2005 when they take on Queensland in Game 2 of the State of Origin series at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night. Read our Origin Game 2 Preview and Tips.
When: 20:10 | Wednesday 21/06/2017
Where: ANZ Stadium
A Mitchell Pearce four-pointer at the end of a frenetic, ongoing first 40 minutes proved decisive in game 1 as the Blues romped to a 28-4 win with three second half tries to register their biggest win in Brisbane.
Pearce was taken from the field after a heavy hit from Will Chambers but has recovered sufficiently to take his place in an unchanged Blues line-up for the first time in many years.
The same can’t be said of the Maroons with coach Kevin Walters showing no regard for sentiment, axing veterans like Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday and Jacob Lillyman after his pack was comprehensively outplayed on home soil.
The Queenslanders have made seven changes in all with Billy ‘The Kid’ Slater virtually demanding inclusion after some strong recent performances for the Storm.
He’ll wear the number one jersey with much intrigue surrounding the positional make-up of the rest of the backline, with suggestions north of the border that Darius Boyd may line-up in the centres in a move that would keep Dane Gagai on the wing.
Up front, the Maroons have handed debuts to the likes of Coen Hess, Tim Glasby and Jarrod Wallace, the latter freed to take his place after beating a shoulder charge rap at the judiciary earlier in the week.
Blues legend Andrew Johns is an unabashed fan of Cowboys giant Hess, who appears tailor-made for Origin and should give his side considerably greater impact off the bench.
The biggest change, of course, is the return of his North Queensland teammate Johnathan Thurston, the architect of so many Maroons victories over the past decade.
Thurston admitted to feeling ‘a bit sore’ after returning for last weekend’s big win over the Eels in Darwin but his combination with Cooper Cronk is well established and his mere presence gives the side a far greater aura.
Cronk also needs to lift after a below-par effort in Game 1, but should be freshened after sitting out the trip to Cronulla last week.
For the Blues, Andrew Fifita was absolutely enormous in Brisbane, earning the ‘best on ground’ gong with a performance that drew comparisons to Arthur Beetson in his prime.
Jarryd Hayne, meanwhile, revived memories of his celebration at the end of the 2014 Series with a leap into Blatchys Blues and remains the biggest threat for the Queenslanders out wide.
How does this one play out?
If Matt Cecchin, who had a super game in the opener, can keep a big ten and minimise the penalty count then the Blues speed off the line in defence gives them a palpable advantage.
I don’t think that Queensland can win a shootout, so their only hope is that the rain that has lashed Sydney of late continues and they can turn this into a dour, low-scoring contest and get home on the back of a bit of Thurston magic.
New South Wales at $1.55
Queensland at $2.55
Tip: New South Wales at $1.55
Line tip: NSW -4.5 (1.98)
First Try-scorer: Blake Ferguson (10.00)
Tips and Preview provided by UniBet. Read more about UniBet at https://www.justhorseracing.com.au/reviews/unibet