Will Chambers looms as the trump card for Queensland in Perth on Sunday.
You couldn’t have said that at this time last year but he will be the best centre on the field in Origin II and the most experienced by far.
The centres and the wingers will be called upon to finish the best work of those inside them, or stop what is unfolding, and in both attack and defence Chambers is the lynchpin.
Latrell Mitchell has been a standout player, let alone centre, in recent times. It was only a few weeks ago we were all talking about him being the No.1 player in the game. That is how highly he is regarded.
Now he has been dropped by NSW and that plays into Queensland’s hands.
Latrell got the better of Chambers in last year’s series but in Origin I a couple of weeks ago the Maroons veteran was at his best and dominated.
Will is up against Jack Wighton, and he is a quality player, but I am certain Queensland will aim their attack at him so the Raider is going to be under the pump in his first Origin start and only second match.
Queensland did really well with the ball in hand on their right side in game one and Chambers was a big part of that.
Nagging away in the back of Wighton’s mind will be that he threw the pass that Dane Gagai intercepted at Suncorp Stadium to turn the match.
From what I understand, Chambers has been in a great frame of mind leading into this game. He’s been speaking freely in the media and his mindset seems to be on the mark.
Last year Chambers was outplayed by Latrell but he turned that around in the first Origin game. I love the way he plays. He has that mongrel in him and plays tough, which is great.
Chambers is the only centre to actually play there for his club side. The Blues duo of Jake Trbojevic and Wighton are quality players, as is Michael Morgan for Queensland, but they don’t play there in the Telstra Premiership. That is a the way Origin is and the way rugby league is at the moment but at some stage in their careers they have all played in the centres.
Turbo Tom is a class player and Morgan is going to be under the pump on the left side. Pace-wise Turbo has got it over Morgan so he won’t want to show him too much on the outside.
Defensively the Cowboys captain is solid but I’d like to see more out of Morgan’s running game in this match.
I still think Queensland will win this game by four points. The Maroons haven’t changed much from the first game and have the momentum. The Blues have made seven changes and will need to get those new combinations right quickly.
The Maroons will feel they are more settled.
I am expecting Daly Cherry-Evans to lead his team to victory and be the man of the match. The way he led the side in Game One was all class. He came back early from an ankle injury and the way he conducted himself in camp and during the match was all class.
I think he is going to be better for it in Perth. He relishes the leadership role. He was born for it.
He let Cameron Munster do must of the ball running in the first game but as Daly showed in Origin III last year, he is the kind of player who can dominate.
It will be vital that the Maroons forwards hold their own at least. They have brought in Tim Glasby and Jarrod Wallace and they have both been there and done that.
If the forwards can keep it together in the middle I expect the Maroons spine to dominate with Kalyn Ponga, Munster and Cherry-Evans all so dangerous. That is where Queensland has the creative edge.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 2 -
Venue: Optus Stadium, Perth
- Nine Network