The 2022 State of Origin series heads west to neutral territory for the middle match of the three on Sunday and it is one which gives the Queensland Maroons the first chance to secure the shield when they meet the New South Wales Blues for the second time.
Queensland came out on top in the opener in Sydney a couple of weeks ago and with the final match being in Brisbane they might feel they have a free hit here. If New South Wales are to keep the shield in their grasp they have to win here and force a decider.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Arena channel with the build-up to Game 2 beginning at 10am UK time and the kick off coming at Optus Stadium at 10.50 BST.
New South Wales Blues
It was all set up for the Blues to draw first blood in the series when State of Origin returned to Sydney for the first time in a couple of years for Game 1 but Brad Fittler’s charges fluffed their lines and now they have it all to do to keep hold of the Shield. It was a surprisingly flat performance from the Blues in that opening game and by the time they finally had a go at the Queensland line the damage had been done. In truth they were beaten more comfortably than the final score suggested.
Fittler has rung the changes for this match with five starters swapping shirts and another couple on the interchange bench. The headline changes are that Dalvin Cook will only be used from the bench while debuts will be given to Matt Burton and Siosifa Talakai. There is still no Tim Trbojevic for the Blues. They will be looking at the spine of James Tedesco, Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai and Apisai Koroisau to get a much stronger hold on the game than they had in Sydney.
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There were a lot of questions regarding the Queensland Maroons heading into the opening game of the series, much of it around whether Billy Slater had the tactical nous to effect the series as a coach having been such a good influence on it as a player. The answer to those questions were emphatically positive and he is a win away from getting the shield back at the earliest opportunity. You would imagine with more time to work under him and his coaching staff that there is more to come from the Maroons too.
The beauty of the opening win for Queensland is that Slater hasn’t been forced into panic changes. He has had to make a change on the wing where he gives a debut to Murray Taulagi after the injury which Xavier Coates picked up in the first match of the series keeps him out of this game. It might be that the big change is bringing Lindsay Collins into the starting 13 for this second game. He had a huge impact off the bench in the first match.
I expected a few changes to the New South Wales Blues team for this match but I wasn’t expecting as many as there are and I think that tells us where these two teams are right now. If you go back to the last two seasons the Blues won the series off the back of special performances in the centres and out on the wing but the Queensland Maroons look to have them covered in that area this year with New South Wales missing some key personnel.
I thought the interchange bench for the Maroons had much more impact to it than the Blues one did in the opening game, which was a surprise when you consider they were a man light on the bench after the Xavier Coates injury. Harry Grant in particularly had a big impact on the game, as did Lindsay Collins, who could do his thing from the start here. There was a lack of pep in New South Wales in the first game and while their forwards worked hard they were not really helped by a lack of metres made from the backs. I don’t see anything changing here so Queensland look great value to take a 2-0 lead back home with them.
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