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Three new Maroons, Blues make mass changes with Burton, Talakai to debut, trio recalled

Blues coach Brad Fittler has swung the selection axe big time for Origin II with seven changes for the must-win game in Perth, including recalls for Api Koroisau, Angus Crichton and Jake Trbojevic, along with debuts for Matt Burton and Siosifa Talakai.

Queensland have made three changes, all due to injuries with Xavier Coates, Reuben Cotter and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow replaced in the squad by Corey Oates, Beau Fermor and Reece Walsh.

All three new faces will be on the reserves with Murray Taulagi elevated to the starting side at wing to replace Coates and fellow game-one extended squad member Jai Arrow also being promoted, snaring an interchange berth with Lindsay Collins starting at prop and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui reverting to lock from the front row.

The Blues have officially confirmed their squad with Stephen Crichton elevated from the bench to centre alongside Burton with Brisbane’s Kotoni Staggs dropped after a modest debut in game one.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 19: Matt Burton of the Bulldogs celebrates victory with fans after the round 15 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Wests Tigers at CommBank Stadium, on June 19, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Matt Burton. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Former NSW coach Phil Gould claimed the Blues were “too Pantherised” in Origin I but they will have more of a Penrith influence in Perth next Sunday with Koroisau added to the interchange to make it seven players from the premiers in the game-day 17 along with Burton, who was part of last year’s grand final win before moving to Canterbury.

“It was unreal. I just couldn’t believe it. It’s always been a dream of mine to put on that jersey and I’m pumped that I get the opportunity,” Burton said.

“I was getting text messages earlier in the day so I just turned my phone off and flushed it. I knew we had to do a job for the Bulldogs and I’m happy to get the result. It’ll be unbelievable. You dream of running out there when you’re watching it as a kid.

“To be able to put that jersey on is going to mean a lot. Back out in Dubbo, I used to love it, I’d get dressed up for it, waiting for it to come around you used to get goosebumps watching it. It’s going to be a dream come true.”

Siosifa Talakai. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Talakai is the other debutant for NSW with his versatility of being able to switch between centre, back row and the middle giving Fittler options with his rotation.

Canberra star Jack Wighton is out because he is in isolation after contracting COVID-19 while Staggs, Ryan Matterson, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Tariq Sims have been dumped with Trbojevic and Crichton welcomed back.

Talakai, after a barnstorming effort in Cronulla’s win over Gold Coast on Saturday, told ABC Radio: “You know my number Freddie. Give me a call” when asked whether he hoped to represent Tonga or NSW in Representative Round.

Roosters lock Victor Radley and another uncapped forward, Cowboys prop Jordan McLean have been named in the extended squad with teen star Joseph Suaalii set to line up as 18th man.

NSW squad

1. James Tedesco
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Matt Burton
4. Stephen Crichton
5. Brian To’o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Cameron Murray
12. Liam Martin
13. Isaah Yeo

14. Api Koroisau
15. Jake Trbojevic
16. Siosifa Talakai
17. Angus Crichton
18. Joseph Suaalii

19. Clint Gutherson
20. Nicho Hynes
21. Jordan McLean
22. Victor Radley

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Xavier Coates of the Maroons receives attention after sustaining an injury during game one of the 2022 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on June 08, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Xavier Coates. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Maroons had a late hiccup with Reuben Cotter ruled out for a month after injuring his hamstring in the warm-up for the Cowboys’ game at Manly on Friday night.

Tabuai-Fidow failed his HIA after a head knock against the Sea Eagles and was ruled out.

Queensland squad

  1. Kalyn Ponga
  2. Selwyn Cobbo
  3. Valentine Holmes
  4. Dane Gagai
  5. Murray Taulagi
  6. Cameron Munster
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans
  8. Lindsay Collins
  9. Ben Hunt
  10. Josh Papalii
  11. Kurt Capewell
  12. Felise Kaufusi
  13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
  14. Harry Grant
  15. Jai Arrow
  16. Patrick Carrigan
  17. Jeremiah Nanai
  18. Tom Dearden

19. Thomas Flegler
20. Beau Fermor
21. Corey Oates
22. Reece Walsh

Cotter had scans on Friday night to assess the damage and he is now facing a month on the sidelines, which means he won’t being able to suit up for his second match with the Maroons in Perth and will miss the series finale at Suncorp Stadium.

Carrigan told AAP: “It’s a massive blow. He’s the best fella ‘Reubs’ and he really put the team first last time and played 80 minutes and had a monster of a game.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 04: Murray Taulagi during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session at Sanctuary Cove on June 04, 2022 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Murray Taulagi. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“It’s a big loss and it’s definitely going to hurt but Bill has driven the next man up mentality so whoever pulls on that Queensland jersey I’m sure they can do the job.”

Collins was breathing easier on Sunday morning as he will avoid a ban from an incidents in Saturday night’s Eels-Roosters clash. He can accept a $2500 fine for a dangerous throw after being charged by the match review committee.

The Maroons are one win away from a shock series win after their 16-10 upset at Accor Stadium in the series opener. The three-match series ends with the finale on Wednesday, July 13 in Brisbane.

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