Daly Cherry-Evans says the Maroons must kill NSW’s momentum in the middle if they’re to prevent his Manly teammate Tom Trbojevic from continuing to dominate this year’s Origin series for NSW.
Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell redefined the role of centres in NSW’s historic 50-6 Origin I victory in Townsville and while the Maroons accept they will never completely take the star duo out of the game, they can limit their chances.
"The way Tom plays I think the whole game plan suits the players in their side, they’re playing ad-lib and it comes off the back of momentum," the Maroons skipper said.
"There are ways we can stop that momentum, there are things we didn’t do in the first game that will help us in the second game.
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"They’re naturally going to be involved in the game, Tom and [James] Tedesco. They’re fullbacks at club level, they’re highly involved at club level so I imagine that is going to continue.
"Where and when they bob up we need to be a lot better at dictating that. We shot ourselves in the foot the first game a fair bit.
"I’m not taking anything away from them, they were outstanding, but we need to be better in certain areas to limit where they get the ball and how they get the ball."
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Maroons coach Paul Green agreed that the battle to stop Trbojevic starts in the middle, which is why he’s shown faith in his centre duo Dane Gagai and Kurt Capewell but rejigged his forward pack.
Josh Papalii returns at prop, Jai Arrow moves to an edge and David Fifita will start on the bench.
"I don’t think [centre] was where we lost the game, that’s not an area. I think if we fix some other areas of our game a lot of what didn’t go well for us in the first game will be fixed off the back of that," Green said.
"We had a plan in game one [for Trbojevic] but as I said after the game we didn’t execute it very well. There’s a few things we need to do to try [to] limit his opportunities.
"I don’t think you’re going to completely stop a guy such as him, he is in terrific form. It’s about how we limit those opportunities."
The Maroons carried several injury concerns into Origin I’s camp but Green has taken no such gamble this time with the shorter preparation.
He has also added an opposed session into their training schedule after being unable to find a team up to the standard required for them to run a full session during last game’s camp on the Gold Coast.
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"Look, sometimes opposed can be detrimental to your prep depending on who is running your opposed. You can get a false sense of how well you’re going sometimes," Green said.
"That wasn’t critical for us. It would’ve been nice to be able to get quality opposition to run against us but that wasn’t the case so that wasn’t why we didn’t play well."
Cherry-Evans said the opposed session on Thursday would benefit the Maroons.
"I think we did the best with what we had available and we didn’t have anyone available [in Origin I]. That’s no one’s fault, that’s just the way it goes sometimes in camp," he said.
"But I do believe it will be more beneficial for us having that. It will be a great opportunity for us like you said to get some game simulation during the week which is what most people do at clubland, to be honest."
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.