I reckon the Queensland team that runs onto Suncorp Stadium for Origin II on Sunday night will be a far better than the side that lost 50-6 in Origin I...
Will it be good enough to beat the Blues? Probably not, but then again, ‘probably’ is not a word that should ever be used in relation to Origin.
Last year’s Maroons probably weren’t good enough to win the series. Alfie Langer flying back from England for Game III in 2001 probably wasn’t going to happen either, and Fatty Vautin’s team of Neville Nobodies probably weren’t in the same league as Gus Gould’s superstars in 1995. And look how that all turned out. So let’s forget about what will probably happen on Sunday and concentrate on what we know for sure and certain.
First up, Josh Papalii is back in the front row and that is a huge plus. I’m a big A.J Brimson fan but I think Ben Hunt is a much better inclusion as number 14 as he has more Origin experience and can cover more positions. There’s no hiding the fact that the NSW centres tore Queensland to shreds in Game I, and the Maroons’ selectors have stuck with Kurt Capewell and Dane Gagai which seems risky.
On the other side of the coin is the fact that Gagai was nowhere near 100 percent in Game I and will be a much tougher proposition this time around. Add to that the switch of Valentine Holmes from fullback to the wing ahead of Xavier Coates and the outside defence suddenly has a much starchier look. Plus the Maroons now know Tom Trbojevic will be bobbing up wherever he wants to in attack.That might not make it any easier to stop him, but at least they won’t be taken totally unawares like they were last game.
Of course the biggest question mark over is the inclusion of 18 year-old Reece Walsh at fullback after only seven NRL games. Will this prove to be a masterstroke or a case of a promising kid being thrown to the wolves too soon? We won’t know until fulltime but I reckon it will “probably” be a game we will be talking about for years.
What do YOU reckon?
AGREE: The Maroons were caught off-guard in Townsville. They will be a different animal at a packed Suncorp Stadium – and Reece Walsh will have a blinder.
DISAGREE: The Maroons could start playing an hour before the scheduled kick-off and they still wouldn’t beat the Blues. Tommy Turbo and Latrell will pick up where they left off in Townsville, and Reece Walsh will be having nightmares of Nathan Cleary’s kicking game for weeks.