Sports writer, JASON OLIVER, looks over both states in preparation for Sunday night with his State of Origin tips for Game 2 of the 2021 series.

Queensland Maroons v New South Wales Blues @ Suncorp Stadium
Sunday 27th June, 7:50pm

MaroonsBlues
Reece Walsh1James Tedesco
Valentine Holmes2Brian To’o
Kurt Capewell3Latrell Mitchell
Dane Gagai4Tom Trbojevic
Kyle Feldt5Josh Addo-Carr
Cameron Munster6Jahrome Luai
Daly Cherry-Evans7Nathan Cleary
Christian Welch8Daniel Saifiti
Andrew McCullough9Damien Cook
Josh Papalii10Junior Paulo
Jai Arrow11Cameron Murray
Felise Kaufusi12Tariq Sims
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui13Isaah Yeo
Ben Hunt14Jack Wighton
Moeaki Fotuaika15Angus Crichton
David Fifita16Payne Haas
Francis Molo17Liam Martin


History:
Played 121, Maroons 64, Blues 55

Last Meeting: Game 1, 2021: Blues 50 def. Maroons 6

Final Thoughts: We can never quite rule the Queensland Maroons out of a series, even if the New South Wales Blues did thump them 50-6 in Game 1.

Paul Green comes into this one desperate and under pressure while Brad Fittler, having coached some awful Game 2 performances already, will be looking to keep his side on task. The Blues already have one hand on the State of Origin shield. Even at Suncorp Stadium, they should have their second hand on it after 80 minutes.

Head-to-Head & Handicap

The Blues are heavy favourites following their dismantling of the Maroons attack in Game 1.

Queensland, on the other hand, isn’t expected to finish within two converted tries with their line out to +13.5 early in the week.

Their list isn’t close to the Blues. If one journalist hadn’t called the 2020 group “the worst Queensland team of all time” somebody would have said it about the current crop. Queensland are so desperate they’ve named 18-year-old Reece Walsh to make his State of Origin debut after only seven first grade games.

Kalyn Ponga, Harry Grant, AJ Brimson and Reed Mahoney are players Paul Green would like to have picked but are unavailable due to injury. That has led to Walsh being named too early in his career, Andrew McCullough earning a recall and Francis Molo making his debut in the State of Origin arena. Jai Arrow has been named on the edge in another strange selection while David Fifita – one of Queensland’s best-attacking weapons – will start the game off the bench.

Meanwhile, Freddy Fittler has been able to name largely the same side he did for Game 1. He’s improved it by adding Angus Crichton to the mix while players who made their debut in the last match will be better for the experience.

Still, this is Origin, and this is Queensland.

Points & Where They’re Coming From

The 42.5 Points Total in Game 1 made for a point of interest after none of the previous ten series openers finished with over 34 points. That points total was cleared by New South Wales alone in Game 1 and has been pushed out to 46.5 for Game 2.

Josh Addo-Carr is the favourite to get the scoring underway at $7.50 ($1.53 anytime) with Brian To’o just behind at $8 ($1.57). Should the Maroons start well and begin to believe in an upset with an early try, Valentine Holmes is the most likely at $12. Although, Kyle Feldt at $14 might be a more reliable option given the possibility that Reece Walsh may not start the game at fullback.

Tom Trbojevic already has two State of Origin hattricks. He ran three tries in with relative ease in Game 1 and is at $15 to repeat the dose in Game 2. He will fancy his chances again against Kurt Capewell while Walsh’s small stature will make him a prime target in the air on 5th tackle. We saw Trbojevic swing over to the left edge and contest a high-ball in the last match and will likely see it early on Sunday night.

Points scored is trending upward in the NRL and the State of Origin series opener has set the table for another free-flowing match on Sunday.

Tip

The +13.5 line doesn’t look like it will be enough for the Maroons. Not with the way elite teams are getting a roll on and piling up points at the moment. If the Blues get downhill and start to take over as they did in Game 1, Game 2 will produce a similar result. The rules don’t provide teams with an opportunity to slow things down or earn a relieving penalty. Instead, they defend multiple sets with kickoffs in between and the game gets out of hand. This Blues team, as we now know, can certainly get a roll on and pile up points. Swallowing the -13.5 points is the play in the handicap market.

However, Queensland’s improvements in the middle suggest we will still see the usual arm-wrestle to start. They kept the Blues out for 17 minutes before the floodgates opened up in Game 1, and that was with an already depleted pack losing Christian Welch after 12 minutes. Adding Josh Papalii and a State of Origin Suncorp crowd will add some strength to Queensland’s start. This Maroons middle is far superior and will be the catalyst to an upset should we see one. Expect them to close up the middle and look to force New South Wales down the edges in hopes of an error.

Tip: Time of 1st Try – 8 Minutes or Later @ $1.99