The 2023 State of Origin series heads into game two in the Suncorp Stadium cauldron on Wednesday, with NSW striving to force a decider after Queensland’s stunning upset in the opener.
20:05 (AEST), Wed 21st Jun @ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Played 127 – Queensland 68, New South Wales 57, draws 2
Last Five Matches:
- Game 3, 2021 – Queensland 20 def NSW 18 at Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
- Game 1, 2022 – Queensland 16 def NSW 10 at Accor Stadium, Sydney
- Game 2, 2022 – NSW 44 def Queensland 12 at Optus Stadium, Perth
- Game 3, 2022 – Queensland 22 def NSW 12 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- Game 1, 2023 – Queensland 26 def NSW 18 at Adelaide Oval
NSW and Queensland have been forced into multiple injury-related changes for game two, while the Blues have made some additional alterations to the make-up of their side following their stunning late fadeout in a 26-18 series-opening loss in Adelaide.
Injuries suffered in club footy have sidelined Nathan Cleary (hamstring) and Apisai Koroisau (jaw) for the rest of the series. Mitchell Moses won the race for Cleary’s No.7 jersey ahead of Adam Reynolds and Nicho Hynes; the Parramatta linchpin will partner Jarome Luai, who saw off the challenge of Cody Walker for his five-eighth spot.
Damien Cook, a veteran of 15 consecutive Origins before being a contentious game one omission, has received a recall at hooker. Meanwhile, Cowboys rake Reece Robson will debut off the bench at the expense of Hynes, who was been cast aside altogether.
Shock game one pick Tevita Pangai Jr has also been cut loose after one game for another debutant in Tigers tyro Stefano Utoikamanu, who will come off the bench with Junior Paulo moving into the starting pack.
Latrell Mitchell was again named for game two and has again pulled out mid-camp – and Stephen Crichton will again come in at left centre. Liam Martin, arguably the Blues’ best in game one, will have a significantly restricted build-up due to a head knock suffered last Saturday playing for the Panthers.
Queensland have had three players ruled out of their series-opening 17, but replacing them has been relatively straightforward.
Xavier Coates comes onto the wing for two-try Adelaide star Selwyn Cobbo; current Test second-rower Jeremiah Nanai returns for Tom Gilbert; and Titans prop Moeaki Fotuaika will take Jai Arrow’s place on the bench. All three incoming players have represented the Maroons in recent seasons.
Some of the more contentious game one selections – fullback debutant Reece Walsh and centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow – emphatically repaid Billy Slater’s faith with huge games in the Maroons’ backs-to-the-wall win.
What We Like:
The Adelaide clash was one of just two series openers in the past 13 years to produce more than 34 points, easily going over the total line. But despite another small total line (36.5), all recent trends point to taking the under.
The last seven Origin matches at Suncorp Stadium have produced 34 points or less. Neither state has scored more than 26 points in a Brisbane-hosted Origin since Queensland’s record-shattering win in the 2015 decider.
That said, Valentine Holmes appeals to score 10+ points ($2.30), while Moses to score 6+ ($2.00) holds some value.
Coates scored tries in his first two Origins but has not crossed in his five since. If he can cash in on the same flank Cobbo did, however, he’s a $2.07 Anytime Tryscorer, $8 to cross first and $6.50 to score two or more – the favourite in all three markets. Tabuai-Fidow is a handy $2.60 to dot down after his decisive late try in game one, while Cam Munster ($3.25) has now scored in his last two Origins.
In the NSW side, Josh Addo-Carr is a $2.70 Anytime favourite and enticing value given he has 10 tries in 13 Origins to his name. Hudson Young ($6.00) and Cook ($7.25) are smokies in that market to consider.
Munster is a super-short Man of the Match favourite at $5.50, ahead of Reece Walsh ($7.50), who was surely in the frame in game one behind winner Reuben Cotter, a $23 chance to go back-to-back. A Moses MotM fairytale is paying $12, but James Tedesco ($10), Payne Haas ($15) and Cook ($23) shape as more likely best-on-ground options if the Blues are to get up.
The Blues are probably still trying to figure out how they lost the series opener. Following a tardy start, they pulled back a 10-0 deficit and hit the front again after falling behind in the second half.
Despite the Maroons having a player binned in the 68th minute while two points down, their unbreakable spirit and incredible poise again brought NSW undone. Munster set Tabuai-Fidow up for a try then backed up to score the clincher and write another chapter in Queensland rugby league folklore.
The Blues dominated territory, possession, yardage – almost every important stat category. They need to be far better at winning the important moments…which won’t be easy at a packed Suncorp Stadium with the series on the line and their best player back in Sydney. Not to mention the fact they lost four of the last five Origin matches overall – and the last six straight decided by 10 points or less.
Too much appears to depend on Moses having a blinder in what could unravel into a fool’s errand, given the lack of confidence and direction around him in the NSW line-up.
The Blues have lost five of their last six at Suncorp Stadium and have levelled a series from 1-0 down in Brisbane just once – in 1998.
Queensland’s ability to ride out the rough patches, their trust in one another, their tenacity across the park, and polish and poise provided by Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans all point to Billy Slater’s side wrapping up the series with a game to spare for the first time since 2016.