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Green counting on Big Papa to win back control of the middle

Maroons coach Paul Green is confident the return of enforcer Josh Papalii can help his team break even in the middle of the park after they were dominated by the Blues in that area in the series opener.

With Papalii sidelined by suspension and Christian Welch playing just 13 minutes due to a head knock, the Maroons were over run by Blues big men Payne Haas, Junior Paulo and Daniel Saifiti.

The return of 18-game veteran Papalii is sure to make a massive difference as Queensland look to square the series at a packed Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night.

"It's fair to say the middle of the field is an area where we got beaten in game one and we need to tighten up, so Josh Papalii and Christian Welch will make a huge difference there," Green said on Saturday.

Maroons v Blues - Origin II

"Josh obviously wants to make sure that our forwards are in a contest there around the middle of the park."

As he heads into his second game as Origin coach with the series on the line and a 44-point loss to turn around, Green said the Maroons' preparation has been vastly better than it was for game one.

"I'm happy with the week we had, it has certainly had far less disruptions than the first one," he said.

"It just allows everyone to concentrate on getting ready to play as opposed to any of the distractions."

Later on Saturday, the withdrawal of rookie Reece Walsh due to a hamstring strain suffered at the captain's run is sure to have changed the coach's demeanour slightly.

The loss of Walsh sees Val Holmes slide back to fullback and Sharks flyer Ronaldo Mulitalo come in on the wing, although that came with drama attached as NSWRL officials questioned his eligibility to play State of Origin.

Roaming Turbo on Feldt’s defensive radar

Apart from that late hiccup, Green also has the huge task of trying to shut down the game's most in-form player, Tom Trbojevic.

Quizzed about how the Maroons could limit his influence, the Queensland mentor said gaining supremacy in the middle third would have a ripple effect out wide.

"We're not going to be able to stop him roaming the field, he'll still do that, and that's what he does well," Green said.

"What I said about being a bit more physical through the middle part [of the field] that will certainly help us handle those other guys."

 

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.