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Experts' view: What team changes are needed for Origin II

As soon as players left the field after Origin I, attention turned to what changes were needed for Game Two at Suncorp Stadium.

Unsurprisingly, most of that talk centred on Queensland following their mammoth defeat in Townsville.

Josh Papalii is back from a ban and Kalyn Ponga is expected to be fit, but what else can the Maroons do?

The experts at NRL.com have come up with their solutions as to what can help Queensland keep the series alive.

Experts' view - Team changes for Origin II

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

If there are no injuries for NSW they will go in unchanged. Queensland will welcome back Josh Papalii with Tino Fa'asuamaleaui moving to the bench. With Kalyn Ponga coming back he should be fullback and Valentine Holmes moves to the wing in place of Kyle Feldt.

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Brett Kimmorley (Former Test halfback)

There is no need to do anything to that NSW team. For the Maroons, Kalyn Ponga will be a welcomed return if fit, while Josh Papalii should make a massive difference in the middle. Queensland also need a backup No.9 and with Reed Mahoney out, Ben Hunt is the best option.

Jamie Soward (2010 premiership winner)

Ben Hunt needs to come in for the Maroons. His experience and versatility is a must for Game 2 if Queensland are to turn things around.

Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers great)

Leave the Blues how they are - everything worked great. As for Queensland, Josh Papalii and Kalyn Ponga should return and Ben Hunt is also worth a look for the bench.

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Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 

For the Blues, Angus Crichton is a must to come into the squad. Given how much talent there is in the NSW backline, I would bring in Crichton for Jack Wighton.

For Queensland, the important inclusions are Kalyn Ponga and Josh Papalii. I would also bring in Tom Opacic to play centre. Opacic is a specialist centre and defence is his strong suit.

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

The Maroons need a defensive centre to contain Tom Trbojevic and Will Chambers has shown in the past he can do the job. Kurt Capewell to the bench. Ben Hunt should also be on the bench for ability to cover dummy half or a playmaking role. Kalyn Ponga will also be back if fit.

As for NSW, if you win 50-6 you don’t need to make unforced changes.

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)

Angus Crichton needs to come into the NSW starting line-up with Tariq Sims back to the bench and Junior Paulo making way as Sims and Liam Martin can each play as a middle forward if need be.

Queensland should try AJ Brimson in the centres, if he's fit, to counter the Blues' pace out wide. Kalyn Ponga and Josh Papalii are walk-up starts with Kyle Feldt and Jaydn Su'A the two most likely to drop out of the game-day 17.

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

No changes for NSW. It may sound harsh on Angus Crichton but Tariq Sims and Liam Martin did their jobs and deserve to stay. For the Maroons, Kalyn Ponga and Josh Papalii come in. Id' also move Kurt Capewell to the bench and bring in Will Chambers. Papalii should replace Joe Ofahengaue. 

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Paul Zalunardo (NRL.com senior journalist)

Queensland need a new backline. I'd bring in Will Chambers and Tom Opacic in the centres and Kalyn Ponga at fullback. Valentine Holmes moves to the wing. In the forwards, Josh Papalii has to return and Christian Welch will also seem like a new player and a HIA curtailed his playing time in game one.

For NSW, Angus Crichton onto the bench is all - you can't drop anyone from the starting 13.

Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)

Angus Crichton in for NSW with Tariq Sims back to the bench and Liam Martin missing out.

For Queensland, Josh Papalii into the front row, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to lock and Jai Arrow to replicate bench impact at South Sydney. Kalyn Ponga at fullback, Valentine Holmes to centre and Ronaldo Mulitalo on the wing for Kyle Feldt. Ben Hunt should have been the Maroons utility option on the bench from day one.

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so the Blues should field the same 17 for Game Two but the only way the Maroons are getting back into the series is by throwing caution to the wind and giving whiz kid Reece Walsh a shot and getting experienced hands Josh Papalii, Ben Hunt and Will Chambers into their side.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

There may be calls to bring Angus Crichton in for NSW, but I know Freddy loves a bit of INXS's work so he should be entering the Blues' selection meetings singing Don't Change and keep the 17.

Halves can't star behind a beaten pack and Queensland's night was done when Christian Welch left the field early on. Josh Papalii's return will help, and throw Kalyn Ponga in the mix with DCE and Munster and you've got the ingredients for a recipe better than The Colonel's 11 secret herbs and spices.

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

For the Blues, a winning team doesn’t require much tinkering but Angus Crichton simply has to play. If he starts on the right edge that allows Cam Murray to revert to the bench. 

For the Maroons, bigger changes are required. With Kalyn Ponga still very underdone (if he’s even fit) I’d start AJ Brimson at fullback, shift Val Holmes to the wing at the expense of Xavier Coates, and bring either in-form Eel Tom Opacic or veteran Maroon Will Chambers at centre. Kurt Capewell drops to the bench alongside a recalled Ben Hunt and Josh Papalii returns from suspension in the front row.

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Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

For Queensland, a fit Kalyn Ponga could provide more strike at fullback, pushing Val Holmes to the wing. Josh Papalii will be a huge inclusion at prop with Jai Arrow reverting to the bench and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui switching to lock. No changes for NSW.

Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy guru)

Kalyn Ponga and Josh Papalii are obvious inclusions for Queensland now they’re available, while I’d strongly consider giving Tom Opacic a shot in the centres where he’s been very solid defensively for the Eels this year. Kurt Capewell would shift back to the bench.

Angus Crichton deserves to come straight in for the Blues, probably at the expense of Liam Martin.

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

For the Blues - sorry Angus Crichton, you’ll need to wait.

Queensland should add Will Chambers into the centres for some mongrel and shift Kurt Capewell to the bench. Assuming Kalyn Ponga is fit, he should go to fullback, shifting Valentine Holmes to the wing and Kyle Feldt out. A refreshed Josh Papalii should start at prop while Tino Fa'asuamaleaui moves to the bench. Reece Walsh should only be an option if Ponga can’t take the field.

 

Origin II in Brisbane is sold out but tickets are still on sale for game three at Stadium Australia in Sydney on July 14 - get your tickets at NRL.com/tickets.

 

Alexa (Your Trusted Voice Assistant and Footy Fan)

It’s always close when the cockroaches and cane toads clash, but I think NSW have a stronger spine this year. If you have an Alexa-enabled device, try saying, “Alexa, who will win the State of Origin?” If you don’t have one yet, you can grab one here .

 

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The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.