The Blues forwards will have a massive impact in State of Origin II at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night, with Test prop James Tamou expected to again shine, according to NSW assistant coach Trent Barrett.
Barrett identified the Kangaroos forward as an Origin standout after making an immediate impact in the early stages of the series opener in Melbourne.
The 113kg prop made 22 tackles, three tackle-breaks and 11 runs for 96 metres in his 42-minute Origin debut.
“His start to the game was one of the best debut’s I’ve seen from a young front-rower,” Barrett told NRL.com.
“He was outstanding. I hope he will repeat that.
“I think the way we started the game in Origin I in Melbourne we were by far and away the most dominant team in the first 25 minutes.”
Debutant Tim Grant has also taken Barrett by surprise since being naming in the starting 13.
The NSW assistant coach says the youngster’s preparations for game two have been outstanding and prove he is ready to take the next step in his representative career.
“He’s got a really good attitude, he likes his training,” Barrett said.
“I think everyone is surprised how big he is.
“That’s going to help with him and [James] Tamou and [Paul] Gallen in our front row and playing in the middle of the ruck is going to give us a lot of go forward at the start of the game which we’re going to need.”
The other forward Barrett identified as crucial in the clash is Manly star Anthony Watmough, who insists he will be fit despite injury concerns. Watmough will be looking to make an impact off the bench and Barrett believes his skills in the wet will go a long way for the Blues at ANZ Stadium.
“He was pretty unlucky not to make the first game I thought,” Barrett said.
“He gives us a lot of leg speed around the ruck and as you said before, if we do go through the middle a little bit more he’s a player we can use to do that.
“He’s got really good footwork and on a slippery surface that helps. He’s a tough competitor, he’s suited to this game and it’s good to have him back.”
It’s a must-win game for NSW and Barrett says the Blues are more hungry for the win than they ever have been.
“They all have a point to prove and we need to win. It’s a simple as that,” he said.
“We can’t afford to lose another series and particularly here at home, so it’s a big game.”