Queensland to bounce back
Former Super League coach Ian Millward previews the second game in the State Of Origin series.
- Related Content
This is a huge game for New South Wales, victory here and the Queensland domination of the series is over and the Blues will be State Of Origin champions for the first time in nine years.
They were the best team in the opening game in Brisbane, thoroughly deserved the victory, and are rightfully favourites to complete the job in Sydney.
But I just have a nagging doubt. It's a very different test now to go into a game as favourites, with a weight of expectation on your shoulders, and I just wonder if this champion Queensland side have another huge performance in them.
They go into the game without Cooper Cronk and his replacement Dale Cherry-Evans is just one of their men under an injury cloud, with others including Billy Slater and Greg Inglis. But they do have the world's best hooker in Cameron Smith and stand-off in Jonathan Thurston to get them around the field.
True the Maroons don't have a great record at the ANZ Stadium and at least three-quarters of a capacity 85,000 crowd will be baying for their blood, but this looks the sort of challenge they'll relish. I take them to win a very tight, low-scoring game. Champion teams come to the fore when the odds are stacked against them and there's life in this Queensland side yet.
If they do win Thurston or Smith will be man-of-the-match and those looking for a first try-scorer bet should concentrate on Inglis. I expect Queensland to come roaring out of the blocks and while he was quiet in the first game, the left-hand side fearing Thurston, Darius Boyd and himself is always a go-to area for big plays.
Throw in the fact opposite number Josh Dugan is inexperienced in the position (for all he is an outstanding full-back) and there are reasons to believe Inglis could be ready to explode - when his State need it the most.