PREVIEW: State Of Origin II
New South Wales will venture north to Brisbane for Game II of the 2016 Holden State of Origin in what proves to be a must-win affair for the Blues, who suffered a 6-4 defeat at the hands of Queensland in Game I of the series at ANZ Stadium.
Looking to avoid their 10th series loss in 11 years, the Blues will be met with significant hostility at Suncorp Stadium as they look to level the series and step up a decider at ANZ Stadium.
The New South Welshmen will need to improve upon their record at a venue where they have won 3 of their past 12 encounters – two of which were dead rubbers.
The Maroons dominance at home was highlighted in Game III last year, with the reigning champions demolished a lacklustre Blues outfit 52-6 to clinch the title once more.
Despite the side’s poor showing at Suncorp Stadium in 2015, New South Wales will field a new look outfit this time around, with only 6 of the current 17 players featuring in the biggest loss in State of Origin history.
One significant change that has been made is the inclusion of Rabbitohs halfback, Adam Reynolds, who will line-up for his second game in the Sky Blue.
After impressing on debut in Game I, Reynolds has stated that he will be looking to step up his game and develop his combination with halves partner, James Maloney.
“We learnt a lot in Game I. We’ve come together now for the second time. I feel comfortable playing with Jimmy,” said Reynolds.
“I think it (the combination) will definitely be better,
“Now we can hit the ground running, we know each other a lot better and we’re more comfortable around each other now.”
In addition to the added attacking flair that will be provided by the improved relationship between the New South Wales halves pairing, the Blues have also bolstered their strike power with the inclusion of Dylan Walker, who replaces the injured Josh Morris (groin) at right centre.
Tyson Frizell and Jack Bird have also been named to debut for the Blues, claiming positions in the second-row and interchange respectively, whilst Jacob Lillyman has been named for the Maroons in the place of the injured Nate Myles (knee).
Walker, who is notorious for his strong running game, will face a significant defensive challenge as he squares off against Rabbitohs skipper, Greg Inglis, who will be playing his 29th game for Queensland.
Despite having a relatively quiet performance in Game I, Inglis will no doubt be looking to get the best of the New South Wales rookie and add to his career tally of 17 tries for Queensland – 11 of which have been scored in the centre position.
Spotlight: The New South Wales Spine
All eyes will be on the New South Wales spine on Wednesday night after a promising displayed in Game I.
The combination of Matt Moylan, James Maloney, Adam Reynolds and Robbie Farah was used with relative success in the series opener, with all individuals featuring prominently for the Blues.
Despite the solid performance from the individuals in the middle of the field, they were unable to gel and provide the polish required to put points on the boards and secure victory.
After spending another week in camp in Coffs Harbour, expect to see a stronger collective effort between the four individuals, resulting in greater execution of set plays.