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Freddy nails team changes as brutal Blues show more hunger than Maroons

Brad Fittler absolutely nailed the make-up of his team right for Origin II and it looked like every player in the side knew exactly what their role was.

His captain James Tedesco summed it up perfectly after the game that the Blues had more hunger and were more brutal, which was spot-on.

NSW ran stronger, tackled harder and did a number on Queensland on Sunday night to thoroughly deserve their 44-12 victory.

State of Origin games are won at the advantage line and the Blues dominated the Maroons throughout the contest.

I thought the sin-binning of Felise Kaufusi just before half-time was extremely harsh on the Maroons but it certainly didn’t change the end result.

The Blues’ new faces all seemed to have a positive effect and they all made an outstanding contribution.

Matt Burton

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Jake Trbojevic and Api Koroisau were rock solid in the middle and Matt Burton on that left edge looked very comfortable working alongside Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary and Brian To’o from their days together at Penrith. 

His bombs were awe-inspiring. That one that poor old Murray Taulagi tried to get under in the second half, they said on commentary that it went above the stadium roof but I think the ball came down from an international space station in orbit covered in ice it went that high. 

Damien Cook in his new role off the bench gave the Blues a different dimension in attack so Freddy should feel happy with the way he changed things up for the trip west. 

Heading to Perth early in the week, arriving on Monday, three days before Queensland seemed to work for them as well. They looked more settled.

But it wasn’t just the new guys in the team – James Tedesco was a huge part of the win with their back five. To’o, Daniel Tupou, Burton and Stephen Crichton were working off the ball on kick reception and if not play one, but play two, every set they had options working the ball back upfield.

Nathan Cleary celebrates

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Liam Murray and Cameron Murray, with their leg speed in the middle made plenty of yards, and Junior Paulo had a much bigger impact in this game than the series opener. 

Queensland just didn’t seem to have the intensity and attention to detail in defence that they took onto the field in game one.

Even before Kaufusi got sin-binned they just didn’t appear to have the same desire. I wrote about this after Origin I that it’s hard to keep up your intensity and energy the whole way through a series.

Kaufusi being marched to the bin seemed a bit on the tough side and it proved costly with a couple of minutes left in the first half.

Brian To’o scored the next minute to give the Blues the lead at the break and then Tupou got his try soon after Kaufusi came back on. It was pretty much a 12-point turnaround and the Queenslanders never recovered.

The extra tackling and effort areas that the Maroons had to do around that time was evident as they fatigued quickly in the last half-hour of the game.

Jarome Luai of the Blues drops the ball in a tackle during game two of the State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Optus Stadium, on June 26, 2022, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Jarome Luai. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

I think Queensland probably had one too many big bodies in their pack. After Reuben Cotter got ruled out, I said he’d be a big loss because the Maroons didn’t seem to have someone to fill his role of playing 80 minutes and getting through all that work he did in the first match.

Ben Hunt switched to lock there for a while with Harry Grant at hooker but you could see he was gassed because it’s a big ask for a guy who plays halfback at club level most weeks to get through that workload against much bigger humans in the pack. 

Perhaps Billy Slater could look at putting Jai Arrow at lock in game three with Tino Fa’asuamaleaui back at prop with Lindsay Collins on the bench. Or he might just look to bring in a couple of new faces just to freshen up his squad a bit and add some much-needed energy.

All the headlines (and banter) between now and game three are going to be that the Blues were outrageously good and it’s all doom and gloom for Queensland.

But Billy’s too smart to fall for that – he doesn’t need to make mass changes for Suncorp Stadium.

Origin is of course about winning but it’s about winning the series. Game two won’t matter much at all in the end if Queensland bounce back in the decider.

The main changes the Maroons need are in the areas of mindset and attitude. If they fix them up then we’re going to be in for a beauty to finish the series.

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