New South Wales Blues v Queensland Maroons, Blog with Hoops, Game II, squad, caps, Brad Fittler, State of Origin, Game I, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Jake Trbojevic

NSW wielding the pick ax is an admission that the Blues got the side balance for Origin I completely wrong.

With the streak on the line, Brad Fittler and Greg Alexander opted to make five changes as the Blues exposed themselves to rampant criticism.

At 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, it will either be a coaching masterstroke or an absolute disaster.

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Freddy knows better than anyone that New South Wales eat their own when the going gets tough, which is why it’s brave that he was willing to shake things up like the Blues did.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard may consider himself a badass – like Jake Trbojevic was in Origin I – but for the rest of the changes, this NSW team seems to be better balanced in terms of the series leveling try.

Stephen Crichton should never have been the 14 for Origin I and Api Koroisau should have always been a walk-in start as a must in the NSW 17.

The Blues admitted this by appointing Korisau as their starting hooker along with Damien Cook to be used on the bench as a 14.

The Blues mastermind confidence was aware that Kotoni Staggs was a dicey proposition as an opener selection given he can sometimes wait for a game to come to him rather than go for the ball.

Granted, when he has the ball, Staggs can be as destructive as any center in the game, but the Blues were well aware of the downsides.

Stephen Crichton has now been selected in the right center right position.

Damien Cook, Tariq Sims and Kotoni Staggs before the first game.Source: Getty Images


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The Blues can’t stop the injury curse that has ruled out Tommy Turbo, Latrell Mitchell and now Jack Wighton with COVID.

Wighton is a monumental loss considering his performance in Origin I but Matt Burton is in good form, offers a solid alternative to Nathan Cleary and deserves his place in the side.

Tariq Sims hasn’t been in great form for the Dragons in the NRL and was also a risky selection for Origin I.

Cameron Murray as the left edge backrower is a much better option with his quick play and ball-playing ability.

Jake Turbo should never have been let down in the first place and will walk straight into the starting lineup to lead the Blues through midfield in defence.

Ryan Matterson’s selection in Origin surprised me the most.

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It’s unclear exactly how Sifa Talaki will be used, but its sturdy frame seems purpose-built for State of Origin football provided its engine can handle the breakneck speed of the game.

Fittler was shooting straight when asked about all the changes Monday morning.

“I was confident with the first team, but I have to choose a team that we can go out there and win and that’s it,” Fittler said.

“When you are beaten, you have to re-evaluate.

“We don’t have a safety net at the moment, went into the first game thinking in a way about how the game would go and what we could do, but it didn’t happen product.

“So go to Perth with a team that I think we can win with.”

Meanwhile, the Maroons have only been forced to make two changes with Rueben Cotter and Xavier Coates both ruled out through injury.

Pat Carrigan is a similar replacement for in-form Cotter while Murray Tualagi has earned his shot given his form for North Queensland.

What do you think of the Blues and Maroons for State of Origin II?

Blog with Hoops below from 1:00 p.m. AEST. Can’t see it? Click here.

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