Renouf: Maroons will bounce back with Slater and Scott

I expect the Maroons to bounce back in game two - it's their only option.

Queenslanders are often at their best with their backs to the wall. They've done it in the past. Kevin Walters will take them right through what he thinks and they'll be hurting. You'll see a lot better performance in the second game.

Thankfully, there hasn't been many opportunities to analyse Queensland losses in the Origin arena over the past decade or so, but there's no denying the Blues deserved their game-one victory.

From a Queensland point of view - and Kevin Walters has been quite public about it - our middle was a little disappointing. NSW pretty much dominated in that area and that's something we have to fix.

You've got guys like Jarrod Wallace who unfortunately didn't find the metres on the night that he needed. For a front-rower to have the small amount of metres he gained, he was very disappointed in his efforts and he's made that quite clear over the last day or two. There's no way he'll play like that again.

They're going to have to tighten up and be a lot more disciplined around that middle and cut Damien Cook's time.

Most Queenslanders were probably expecting more but - and I've said this all along - NSW have the gun forwards at the moment and they're in form.

Queensland captain Greg Inglis addresses his players at the MCG.
Queensland captain Greg Inglis addresses his players at the MCG. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Probably the only change in the forwards for game two would be Matt Scott coming in. The Maroons definitely could use his experience and if you listen to the way Kevvie talks there's a fair chance he will bring him back in.

Outside of that, there's not really too many options for us in terms of forwards. 

NSW have a plethora of forwards at the moment that are playing well. There's a handful of good forwards who could've made that team that missed out.

Maroons prop Jarrod Wallace.
Maroons prop Jarrod Wallace. ©NRL Photos

The loss of Cameron Smith left a massive hole in the Queensland side, but losing Billy Slater two days before the game didn't help preparations. Billy was the last Maroons player left from that Melbourne spine and he left a big hole, so hopefully we'll have him back for the second game.

Greg Inglis's performance was definitely a highlight for Queensland. Some of his defence was amazing.

You could see in his eyes that he comfortably took on the responsibility of being captain and took it upon himself to lead his teammates. Good on him. He wanted to lead by example and he certainly did that.

You have to give credit to NSW. It was a big move by Brad Fittler to pick the blokes they did. I had a few question marks over the move to pick 11 debutants but it paid off for them.

The Maroons would've been disappointed with certain areas of their game, but it's not hard to find a silver lining when you remember we were in the same situation last year down 1-0 in the series. We came back to win that series and our guys will learn a lot from the first game.

Origin is a series not a single game, and you really do have to take it game by game. That's how it's always approached. The board is wiped clear after game one, and you look forward to the next game and take it on its merits. 

Getting that first game out of the road without Smith will allow the Maroons to look forward to the next game, knowing that adjustment will only get easier.

On the other side of the coin, it was good to see the young NSW centres, Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts, on debut have solid games - but hopefully, they're not as good in the second game.

James Tedesco was outstanding, bouncing off everything. He terrorised Queensland all night.

The Blues have the ascendancy but the Maroons will never surrender the Origin shield without a fight.

 

Origin I is done and dusted! Don’t miss game two at ANZ Stadium on Sunday, June 24. Click here to get your tickets.