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In his weekly Wide World of Sports column, former NSW captain Paul Gallen issues a rallying cry to Blues fans heading into Wednesday's must-win match at ANZ Stadium.

 

I can't wait for the second Origin game on Wednesday.

Queensland talk a lot about how Suncorp's the home of Origin but I reckon ANZ Stadium is even better for a really big game like this one.

I just think it's going to be an awesome experience for not only the players but the fans.

There'll be no boos, no dribblers from up north carrying on about whatever they want to carry on about.

It'll be a totally blue stadium and it's going to be an electric atmosphere. I'm a NSW fan and I'm going and my kids are going, it's going to be an awesome environment as a fan.

And on the other side of the coin, they've only got to wait one week to repay us.

So let's get in first, get out there and support the boys and make sure it's 1-1 going up to Suncorp.

It's up to NSW supporters to make it a really hostile environment for the Queenslanders.

I've experienced it when it's hostile and it's not easy, especially as a captain. There were games up at Suncorp where I'd go up and talk to the referee and all their fans are jeering - it makes you almost want to hurry your conversation up and you might not get your whole point across.

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To do it in front of a crowd that's got nothing but support for you, it's just a better feeling. The whole environment's better.

I've always said my whole career that ANZ with 80,000 people in it, there won't be that many this time because of COVID, but get as many people in there as you can and it's one of the best stadiums in the world you could play in front of. It's better than Suncorp when it's full.

Only 40,000 there this time because of COVID but let's make sure we get 40,000 Blues fans for it.

Support the boys, they've won the last two years, let's make a dynasty of our own and see where Queensland are at after they've lost a few in a row.

During their dynasty, we New South Welshmen made the game bigger and better every year. We had 80,000 people turn up time and time again to support us, the event was getting bigger and better every year.

Let's see where they are when they lose three or four in a row.

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But to get there we've got to support the players and make sure they win. We're going for three in a row and this is a must-win game, the Blues have to win to keep the series alive.

The fans have got their part to play by turning up and creating that fortress atmosphere but the players need to up their game as well.

If they're going to level the series they need to respect the ball more, it's that simple. They'll win if they complete sets better, I don't think Queensland have got much improvement in them.

Don't get me wrong, the Maroons were outstanding the other night, I'm not taking anything away from them, but that second half they dominated in every way until the last five minutes and NSW still almost stole it.

Gerard Sutton blew his whistle to call full-time after the play-the-ball, and the Blues had a huge overlap out wide.

Blues fans thank Paul Gallen.
Blues fans thank Paul Gallen. ©NRL Photos

If that play is allowed to go ahead they probably score a try and then Nathan Cleary would have had a kick to win the game.

I don't think the Blues have to improve a lot to beat Queensland. The Maroons ran harder, they tackled harder, they kicked better, they did all the simple things well, which is what you need to do to win Origin.

Queensland's three tries came from an intercept and two one-on-one missed tackles; they weren't big sweeping plays from one side of the field to the other. It's the simple things that win Origins and NSW have to do a few little things better.

They've got to run harder in the middle, Saifiti was outstanding the other night but he needs more help there. And they've got to respect the ball; that first half they gifted so much field possession to Queensland.

If that happened up the other end NSW go into half-time more than 10-0 up and it's game over. But Queensland respected the ball and did the little things well and NSW didn't. If the Blues fix that up I think they win.

As far as the NSW team changes go, I feel sorry for Luke Keary, he's been the best player in the comp the last three years, it's just the timing of these games for him, he's just hit a wall. I agree that change had to be made but I really feel for him.

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I reckon if it's dry on Wednesday it will really suit Cody Walker.

Normally ANZ [Stadium] is slippery but in November that dew isn't going to be a problem and Walker on his home track could have a really big game.

But he's going to need help from his forwards. Last week only Saifiti and Boyd Cordner made more than 100 metres and that won't get the job done if a few of the others don't stand up.

I do like the change of Payne Haas starting. I think he'll bring that go forward that the Blues need and as I said Saifiti was outstanding in Game One, so those two together should get the Blues on the front foot.

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And then Junior Paulo coming off the bench for that last 10 minutes of the first half with his ball skills, hopefully he really rips the game open when he comes on.

The two experienced back-rowers, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic need to stand up as well.

They've been part of the side for several years now and they need to be leaders, especially with Boyd out of the side for the rest of the series. The Blues need more from those two.

But there's no need to panic. I still think the Blues have the better team and they will have been rocked by that result in the series opener.

I expect them to roll up their sleeves, do the simple things better and set up a mouth-watering finish to the series up in Queensland.

 

Game two tickets start from $45 for members and $49 for general public or get your wig and experience the Blatchy’s effect from $85 for members or $90 for the general public

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