New South Wales will be looking to wrap up this years Harvey Norman State of Origin series when game two gets underway at ANZ Stadium this evening.
The Blues have had a disrupted preperation with illness and injury ravaging the squad and forcing Trent Barrett to be ruled out with a calf injury while Luke Ricketson has been bed ridden with the flu for several days. With Barrett's exclusion, Braith Anasta has been handed the coveted number six jersey and will relish the opporutnity to start in the biggest game of his career to date. Scott Hill comes onto the bench for Anasta and Braith's performance, if good enough, may keep Barrett out of the side for game three and potentially the upcoming tests against Great Britain and New Zealand.
Queensland have picked a much more mobile and versatile side to the one that was caned in game one. The inclusion of Steven Price, P J marsh and Travis Norton gives the Maroons more flexibility and speed across the park and also another dimension in attack with Norton a great ball playing lock. The biggest loss for Queensland is Petero Civoniceva, who is out through injury and his powerhouse running and strong defence are sure to be missed.
The x factor in this game will be the performance of Allan Langer. He is 100% fit and we all know what he did to the Blues last year up at ANZ but the Blues already know all this so their destiny is in their own hands and if they want it badly enough, they will prevail in what is sure to be a much more fiery and hopefully, competetive encounter than game one.
For mine, the game needs some fire and brimstone, an essential ingredient that has been sadly lacking in Origin over the last couple of years. A win for the Maroons would see a packed house at Stadium Australia in a fortnights time and would be a real shot in the arm for a game that is a showcase event, but seems to matter little to the marketing dunces at the NRL.
The head and heart say New South Wales by four in a tough, physical encounter.
If you have an opinion, let's hear it.