Maroons need more from starting props
The Queensland Maroons must get far more aggression and intent from their starting props Dylan Napa and Jarrod Wallace in game two if they are to prevent NSW from wrapping up the State of Origin series in Sydney.
That’s if they both get the opportunity.
The Maroons hierarchy wanted a fired up Napa at the MCG but he was insipid. Wallace, perhaps hampered by an ankle niggle, was in the same category in the 22-12 loss to the Blues.
The first half was dominated by NSW props David Klemmer and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, who both had eights runs and made 89 metres each. Napa had three runs and 28 metres and Wallace four runs for 42 metres.
The Maroons backs were making more of the tough carries and that is not acceptable in Origin football.
There were some scintillating backline tries by the Blues but the fact is that Origin is won up front and that was certainly the case at the MCG.
Campbell-Gillard and Klemmer continued on their merry way in the second half. Napa picked up his involvement slightly, but it was too late by then.
There is a quote on the Queensland Maroons dressing room wall that says: "Origin doesn’t build character, it reveals it".
Never has a truer word been spoken. The injury dramas of the week leading into the game did not prevent Queensland performing with distinction in many departments.
Captain Greg Inglis was enormous. His defence in particular was ferocious. Blues winger Tom Trbojevic and centre James Roberts will no doubt testify to that.
Dane Gagai, playing with a dislocated finger, eptimosed what "character" is and took oodles of tough carries on the wing.
Cameron Munster is set to have a lengthy career in the No.6 jersey and was involved in plenty of good things the Queenslanders did.
Billy Slater will return to fullback in Sydney if he has recovered from a hamstring injury. But stand-in Michael Morgan was one of his side’s best at the back.
That summed up what went wrong for the Maroons. Their best players were in the backline.
Josh McGuire at lock was the only middle forward to run for more than 100 metres.
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Coach Kevin Walters will be tempted to make some changes in game two. He may return to the tried and true upfront leader in Matt Scott to provide more grunt in the engine room.
Broncos forward duo Jaydn Su’A and Joe Ofahengaue came into the Maroons camp at Sanctuary Cove as a learning exercise, but will come under consideration if they can have two big club games in the upcoming fortnight.
Walters said before the game that the Queensland side must move beyond the "Cameron Smith era".
That will be easier said than done. Smith was the virtual attacking and defensive brain of the Maroons side for 14 years. Combine that with the loss of Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, also through retirement, and that only compounds the vacuum left by the former captain.
Game I is done and dusted! Don’t miss Game II of Origin at ANZ Stadium on Sunday 24 June. Click here to get your tickets