The NSW Blues are in all sorts of trouble after Queensland’s brilliant 18-14 comeback win in Origin I.
There are big questions marks over the injury status of star centre Latrell Mitchell and the make-up of the NSW halves for the return bout in Perth.
The Maroons on the other hand are instilled with belief and key men Kalyn Ponga, Cameron Munster and inspirational skipper Daly Cherry-Evans have all vowed to step it up a notch when they head west in just over a week.
Latrell needs to get his injury fixed if the Blues are to bounce back. He got found out at Suncorp Stadium.
They say it is a hip injury but it is a bit of a mystery. I think it might be Osteitis Pubis, an injury I once had. It is painful and it restricts you.
Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues
I watched him get in a bit of space in the first half about 60 metres out and I said to the group I was sitting with ‘we are in trouble here’.
Then he puts a cross-field bomb up and doesn’t run the ball when he has Josh Addo-Carr in support. That tells me Latrell is struggling.
Will Chambers did a great job on Latrell and that is a real credit to Will. I reckon having Justin Hodges as assistant coach really assisted him and would have given Will a lot of confidence to do the job.
The Blues have more questions than answers in the halves.
I went to a lunch on Wednesday before the game where I was on stage with Mal Meninga, Greg Conescu and Laurie Daley.
Cleary: I probably wasn't good enough
Laurie’s only concern was that NSW didn’t have talkers in the halves. Cody Walker and Nathan Cleary are both quality players but they are not big chatters.
Laurie’s worry was that when the going got tough, who was going to be doing the yapping? I think the Blues got found out in that area.
Daly Cherry-Evans is a great communicator and Cameron Munster talks a million miles an hour. They both have the Blues covered in that regard.
Prior to the game I thought DCE and Munster would dominate and they did. Everyone backed it up and it was a really good Queensland win.
If the Blues elect to make changes in the halves then they have a few problems.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the other night that Luke Keary will be out for four to six weeks after a series of head knocks.
Adam Reynolds is out for Souths with a fractured back and probably won’t be available for game two.
Brad Fittler could elevate Jack Wighton or go back to Mitchell Pearce, who certainly has been on fire for the Knights.
DCE warns partnership with Munster will only get better
While the Blues ponder all that the Maroons have no concerns in that area whatsoever.
I expect NSW will bring Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic in for Nick Cotric on the wing in Perth. Tom did the job last year for NSW and when he plays with his brother Jake they both perform better.
At half-time on Wednesday night I thought the Maroons were in a good position despite trailing 8-0. Sure, we had a couple of opportunities to get over the tryline and didn’t, but NSW had dominated the first half.
The second half the Maroons showed great belief.
Dane Gagai showed what a great Origin player he is and Ponga stepped up with two pinpoints passes for tries, one to Corey Oates on the left and one for Gagai on the right.
Gagai's MOM performance by the numbers
They all showed the true Queensland spirit.
Kevin Walters did a great job with his team and his pre-game tactics worked a treat.
We have come out of an era where Queensland had half a dozen of the best players of all time in the one side.
Kevin has got the new team together and said, ‘OK, let’s not talk about NSW or worry about them. Boys this is a new group and we are building our destiny together’.
They all believed in it and embraced it.
Kevin made the week all about him and took the heat off his players. He was the mastermind behind it and it took a lot of courage and belief to do that. Full credit to him.