There’s no tougher prospect than that facing the Blues this Wednesday: beat Queensland, on their home ground, to stay in the series.
NSW’s preparations were disrupted slightly last week as, first, Wade Graham was ruled out of the team through suspension then Josh Morris was scratched because of a groin injury sustained during training. Graham, who was named to replace the injured Boyd Cordner, may be back for game three, but his departure created an opening for Jack Bird, who will debut off the bench alongside St George Illawarra Dragons forward Tyson Frizell.
Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour, Dylan Walker, Adam Reynolds and James Maloney will all get a second chance to shine under coach Laurie Daley, who resisted making wholesale changes after his team went down narrowly to Queensland, 4-6, in the bitterly contested first round.
The Newsroom asked three Origin legends – Ben Ikin, Tim Brasher and Chris Walker, for their thoughts on the game and their tips on which players will make the difference at Suncorp.
Reynolds and Moylan may be central to a Blues comeback if Blues and Balmain Tigers legend Tim Brasher is right.
“The kicking game and the team that best controls the ball,” will determine where the game is won, Brasher told The Newsroom, because “both teams are so even.”
Brasher, who played 21 games for New South Wales and 16 for Australia, envies the Blues players who will run out at Suncorp, tough as the task comfronting them may be:
Ben Ikin, Maroons hero and two-time Australian representative, will be focusing on Darius Boyd, who he reckons was the best on the ground in game one and could make the difference this time.
The Fox Sports commentator and co-host of NRL 360 told The Newsroom NSW would be no walkover because they too have some great players in the team with classy playmakers in Robbie Farah and James Maloney – his NSW players to watch.
He expects the atmosphere at Suncorp to be electric: “As a young rugby league player growing up in Queensland, it’s something you dream about.
“It’s brilliant, It’s energizing, it really lifts you. You get the whole week to be with the team and play with the team.”
Ikin reckons “Origin is a war of attrition, Whoever survives the longest comes out the victor.”