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Five Players To Watch In Game 2

The 2023 State of Origin series heads into game two at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday with NSW’s backs firmly against the wall. Which Blues can force a decider and who will the Maroons count on to seal the series with a match to spare?

Mitchell Moses

For the second time in five Origin matches, Moses has been called up to replace an injured Nathan Cleary at Suncorp Stadium. But the stakes are much higher this time around, with NSW installed as the biggest Origin outsiders in many years to level the series in enemy territory for the first time since 1998. On the surface it looks like a hospital pass after the Blues got it so wrong offensively in the series opener, while Moses’ 4-8 finals record doesn’t exactly scream dominant big-game player. He has a reputation as a good front-running No.7 but he can be bustled in high-pressure situations. However, Moses can only be himself on Wednesday night – and no half in the game is quicker or has a more electric running game when he turns it on. The 28-year-old also has a huge boot as part of a well-rounded kicking game. But, gee, he’s going to have to be 10/10 to get the Blues over the line. Moses is $6.75 to score a try, a handy $3.40 to score 8+ points (he’ll be doing the goalkicking for NSW) and $12 to write one of the great individual chapters in Origin history with the man-of-the-match award.

Reece Walsh

The livewire fullback’s performance in Adelaide deserves to rank among the great Origin debuts. Walsh was strenuously tested at the back but was faultless, while he threatened every time he carried the ball and was willing to chance his arm – producing a breath-taking no-look cut-out ball to set up Selwyn Cobbo’s second. Since rejoining Brisbane this year the he has made Suncorp his personal playground: Dally M contender Walsh has come up with three tries, 12 try assists, six line-breaks and 59 tackle-breaks in nine games as the Broncos’ base. He’ll remain a target for the Blues but Walsh is set to thrive in his second match in the Maroon jersey. The 20-year-old can’t have been far off man-of-the-match honours in game one and on the second line of betting for the award this Wednesday at $7.50, while he’s $2.95 to cross for a try.

James Tedesco

The skipper bore the brunt of post-game criticism from fans and some sections of the media following NSW’s excruciating game one loss, some even calling for him to be axed. Tedesco had game-high tallies for running metres (217) and tackle-breaks (7), but was perhaps guilty of overplaying his hand on attack in a playmaking capacity. He got it wrong a few times as the clunky Blues’ attack broke down near Queensland’s line. Tedesco needs to go back to what he does best – and what he’s been doing well in a struggling Roosters side of late – and keep pushing up in support closer to the ruck, pick his moments and stop trying to force it. The opportunities will come, as they have in 20 Origin appearances to date that have garnered seven tries, three man-of-the-match awards and the 2019 Wally Lewis Medal. ‘Teddy’ is solid value at $3.75 to score a try, while the fact he is the shortest-priced NSW player in the man-of-the-match market ($10) indicates how crucial the veteran fullback is to the Blues’ hopes of keeping the series alive.

Ben Hunt

The timing of Hunt’s bombshell release request at St George Illawarra is potentially disruptive – he’s arguably a bigger story than the impending Origin match itself right now – but the veteran will be eager to do his talking on the field for Queensland. Hunt was a solid contributor in Adelaide working in dummy-half tandem with Harry Grant and playing a roving role, a strategy that continues to pay dividends for Queensland. Returning to the scene of his iconic series-sealing try in 2022, Hunt again shapes as a pivotal performer for the Maroons – via his excellent combination with Cam Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans that helped them get out to an early 10-0 game one, to his sheer competitiveness and game-breaking chops. He’s on the sixth line of betting for the man-of-the-match gong at $14, while he’s $5.75 score his fourth try in his 16th Origin.

Hudson Young

It was a largely forgettable (or regrettable) debut from the dynamic Canberra firebrand in Adelaide, becoming preoccupied with baiting the Queenslanders before getting hooked following an ill-conceived offload in the 31st minute. Though it was harsh call to make Young ride the pine for the rest of the game, it’s fair to say he didn’t handle the occasion particularly well. Liam Martin – the Blues’ best in game one – provided the blueprint for Young: run hard, tackle hard, keep putting yourself in positions to bust the game open. Young possesses speed, tryscoring nous and a varied skillset few forwards in the game do. For NSW to get the most value out of him, the 25-year-old has to ditch the niggle and play his natural game. Young is a top-value Anytime Tryscorer option at $6, though a man-of-the-match performance ($101) would seem unlikely.

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