The red-hot Blues produced their biggest winning margin in Origin history in a game one avalanche leaving the injury-hit Queenslanders with a mountain to climb to get back into the series at their Suncorp Stadium fortress this Sunday.
With centre duo Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell running amok, and Origin debutants Jarome Luai and Brian To'o putting their stamp on the interstate contest in memorable fashion, the Blues were unstoppable in racking up a 50-6 win in game one.
The Blues were virtually unaffected by Queensland closing its borders to residents from Sydney's COVID-19 hotspots and continued Origin camp in Kingscliff on the northern NSW.
The NSW squad headed north on Monday and was COVID tested before entering camp. The Blues moved to Queensland on Friday leading into game two on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.
Anaconda Fish of Origin - Episode II
The Maroons had a host of players unavailable or underdone in the series opener and have just as many headaches this time around with both forced and unforced changes in their squad and with a short build-up to try and get things right for game two.
Hooker and fullback have been their hardest-hit positions with Harry Grant (hamstring) joining Reed Mahoney and the retired Jake Friend on the unavailable list while Kalyn Ponga and AJ Brimson are both out of contention for the fullback spot.
Reece Walsh was handed a debut in the No.1 jersey after just seven NRL games but the youngster was forced to withdraw the day before the game after injuring his hamstring at training. His intended replacement Ronaldo Mulitalo also had to withdraw due to an eligibility mix-up.
The Queensland Government is requiring extra COVID-safe measures for Origin II.
All spectators are required to wear masks on public transport, upon entry and exit to the stadium, and anytime they're not in their seat. They do not need to wear a mask while seated. If they don't have a mask, one will be supplied at the ground.
Any sick spectators are asked to stay home.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 2 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Maroons: A massive blow for Queensland with rookie fullback Reece Walsh ruled out after breaking down during the captain's run on Saturday with a hamstring strain.
Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo originally came into the team as winger but was withdrawn on Sunday morning due to doubt over his eligibility. Xavier Coates will start on the wing.
Titans forward Jai Arrow was treated in hospital with a course of intravenous antibiotics but returned to training on Thursday with his forearm strapped with a guard on it.
Andrew McCullough comes in at hooker for Grant with his Dragons teammate Ben Hunt also returning to the Maroons fold in Brimson's place as the bench utility.
Josh Papalii (suspension) returns in the front row with Cowboys prop Francis Molo handed a debut on the interchange. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui shifts to lock, Jai Arrow to second row and David Fifita to the bench.
Coen Hess is the 18th man.
Blues: The Blues had a clean bill of health after the captain's run on Saturday.
Tom Trbojevic returned to Blues training on Thursday having sat out a session earlier in the week. Trbojevic told NRL.com he missed the session due to player load as he had gone around on Sunday for Manly. He said it had nothing to do with trying to protect his hamstrings.
With prop Jake Trbojevic ruled out by a hip injury, Angus Crichton joins the team on the bench. Junior Paulo takes Trbojevic's place in the starting front row.
Cam Murray remains in an edge role rather than returning to his preferred spot in the middle rotation while game one debutant Liam Martin, who impressed in his half-hour stint after being a late call-up, also holds his place in the 17.
Apisai Koroisau is the 18th man, with Campbell Graham dropping out of the playing squad on game day. Dale Finucane was omitted on Saturday when the squad was cut to 19.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 2 -
Fullback for Maroons is number 2 Valentine HolmesFullback for Blues is number 1 James Tedesco
Winger for Maroons is number 5 Kyle FeldtWinger for Blues is number 2 Brian To'o
Centre for Maroons is number 3 Kurt CapewellCentre for Blues is number 3 Latrell Mitchell
Centre for Maroons is number 4 Dane GagaiCentre for Blues is number 4 Tom Trbojevic
Winger for Maroons is number 20 Xavier CoatesWinger for Blues is number 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Five-Eighth for Maroons is number 6 Cameron MunsterFive-Eighth for Blues is number 6 Jarome Luai
Halfback for Maroons is number 7 Daly Cherry-EvansHalfback for Blues is number 7 Nathan Cleary
Prop for Maroons is number 8 Christian WelchProp for Blues is number 8 Daniel Saifiti
Hooker for Maroons is number 9 Andrew McCulloughHooker for Blues is number 9 Damien Cook
Prop for Maroons is number 10 Josh PapaliiProp for Blues is number 10 Junior Paulo
2nd Row for Maroons is number 11 Jai Arrow2nd Row for Blues is number 11 Cameron Murray
2nd Row for Maroons is number 12 Felise Kaufusi2nd Row for Blues is number 12 Tariq Sims
Lock for Maroons is number 13 Tino Fa'asuamaleauiLock for Blues is number 13 Isaah Yeo
Interchange for Maroons is number 14 Ben HuntInterchange for Blues is number 14 Jack Wighton
Interchange for Maroons is number 15 Moeaki FotuaikaInterchange for Blues is number 15 Angus Crichton
Interchange for Maroons is number 16 David FifitaInterchange for Blues is number 16 Payne Haas
Interchange for Maroons is number 17 Francis MoloInterchange for Blues is number 17 Liam Martin
Reserve for Maroons is number 18 Coen HessReserve for Blues is number 18 Apisai Koroisau
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Todd Smith
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
Cameron Munster v Jarome Luai: The battle between the two No.6s should be compelling. Barely six months ago Munster produced one of Origin's great individual performances as the Maroons completed an upset series win.
Just two weeks ago Luai produced one of Origin's great debuts to help guide the Blues to their biggest-ever win.
The young Panther's confidence and assuredness belied his experience while Munster looked off the pace after not having played for a month due to a foot injury. Expect Munster to be better in this one while Luai again won't be taking any backward steps.
The Blues had the top four and six of the top seven players for run metres gained in game one, as well as the top four and seven of the top eight for tackle breaks. NSW backline players Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell, James Tedesco and Brian To'o were the top four players in both categories.
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.