Queensland great Paul Vautin has turned the blowtorch on New South Wales coach Brad Fittler for making mass changes mid-Origin series.
The Blues lost game one by only a converted try, but then swung the ax and made five changes to the line-up ahead of Origin II in Perth this Sunday.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Tariq Sims, Kotoni Staggs and Ryan Matterson have all been axed, while Jack Wighton was a forced out due to COVID-19.
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“They’ve taken a machine gun to the joint,” Vautin told Wide World of Sports’ 4BC radio.
“Wow. Kotoni Staggs had a great start to the year, some really good games for the Broncos, he was going to be the next thing and he’s lasted one game. Goneski.
“Campbell-Gillard, Ryan Matterson, Tariq Sims… maybe (Fittler) feels there are better players. Well we’ll find out.
“It’s amazing what he’s done.”
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Fittler defended his sweeping changes when speaking to Nine’s 100% Footy on Monday night.
“Maybe they’ve taught us a lesson and we’re going to combat that,” the Blues coach said.
“We’ll have some smaller men around there and see if we can generate some speed.”
Fittler has brought in Matt Burton and Siosifa Talakai to make their Origin debuts, while recalling Api Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic, and Angus Crichton to the team.
There’s one selection that Vautin is impressed by – Trbojevic returning to line up at prop.
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The NSW statesman was a surprise omission from the squad for game one.
“Queensland are not going to be as good up the middle with Jake there, I’m telling you,” Vautin said.
“They’ve made seven changes (to the squad), but it’s still a pretty good team.”
Here is everything you need to know about Origin II.
2022 SERIES FIXTURE
Origin I: Wednesday, June 8, Accor Stadium, Sydney | NSW 10d by Queensland 16
Origin II: Sunday, June 26, kick off time 7.50pm AEST (QLD, NSW, Victoria), Optus Stadium, Perth
Origin III: Wednesday, July 13, kick off time 8.10pm AEST (NSW, QLD, Victoria), Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
GAME TWO TICKETS
Tickets for game two and the entire series can be purchased via the NRL’s authorized ticketing partner, TICKETEK.
Game two tickets start from $49.00.
HOW TO WATCH
Game two and the entire series will be live and exclusive on Nine.
Coverage for game two will start at 7pm (AEST) and wrap up with a post-game show until 11pm. You can also stream the match free on 9Now.
You can also follow the action with Wide World of Sports’ match center as well as the live blog, featuring expert opinions and live reactions from Nine’s rugby league commentator commentators.
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TEAMS FOR ORIGIN II
NSW Blues: 1. James Tedesco (c), 2. Brian To’o, 3. Matt Burton, 4. Stephen Crichton, 5. Daniel Tupou, 6. Jarome Luai, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Payne Haas, 9. Apisai Koroisau, 10. Jake Trbojevic, 11. Cameron Murray, 12. Liam Martin, 13. Isaah Yeo, 14. Damien Cook, 15. Angus Crichton, 16. Junior Paulo, 17. Siosifa Talakai, 18. Nicho Hynes, 19. Joseph Suaalii, 20. Jordan McLean, 21. Clint Gutherson, 22. Victor Radley
Coach: Brad Fittler
Queensland Maroons: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Selwyn Cobbo, 3. Valentine Holmes, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Murray Taulagi, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8. Lindsay Collins, 9. Ben Hunt, 10. Josh Papalii, 11. Kurt Capewell, 12. Felise Kaufusi, 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, 14. Harry Grant, 15. Jai Arrow, 16. Patrick Carrigan, 17. Jeremiah Nanai, 18. Tom Dearden, 19. Thomas Flegler, 20. Beau Fermor, 21. Corey Oates, 22. Reece Walsh
Coach: Billy Slater
ORIGIN II MATCH OFFICIALS
Ashley Klein has retained his post as referee after officiating game one.
The two touch judges are Phil Henderson and David Munro, the standby referee is Gerard Sutton and the standby touch judge is Drew Oultram.
ODDS (courtesy of Sportsbet)
Origin II: Blues $1.71; Maroons: $2.15
2021 STATE OF ORIGIN RESULTS
Origin I: NSW 50d QLD 6
Origin II: NSW 26d QLD 0
Origin III: QLD 20 d NSW 18
Series result: NSW 2-1
Man mountain Talakai
Many are intrigued by the selection of Talakai, who Fittler named in the No.17 jumper.
Talakai’s push for a NSW jersey received a huge boost when he dominated the opening half of Cronulla’s win against Manly in round seven. He piled up 20 runs for 262 meters, as well as eight tackle busts, three linebreaks, three try assists and two tries of his own.
Talakai struggled in his time at the Rabbitohs, but he’s transformed into a lethal ball-runner at the Sharks.
The 25-year-old can do a job in the centers and back row, and his X-factor is massive.
Cleary on a mission
By the age of 23, Nathan Cleary had clinched an NRL premiership, won three Origin series and took out two Dally M halfback of the year awards.
But the Panthers superstar failed to fire in the Origin opener and the heat is on him to deliver in game two.
He’s confirmed exactly that.
“They did a good job in the first game. They had great kick pressure and got to me a few times,” Cleary said.
“I need to be better. I’ll try and get myself into better spots. I’ll watch video and see where the pressure is coming from and work around that.
“It’s a part of footy, especially in Origin, and it’s on me to fix it.”
Cameron Munster was lauded for producing a Wally Lewis-esque performance in the Maroons’ opening-game triumph.
The megastar five-eighth finished the match with 19 runs, 188 run meters and eight tackle busts, and halted a NSW threat late in the dying minutes when he stripped the ball off Stephen Crichton.
Expect a swarm of sky-blue jumpers to be swamping Munster every time he touches the ball.
UNDER 19s MEN’S ORIGIN
The under 19s men’s State of Origin game will be played at Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval on Thursday from 7.45pm, in a double header with the under 19s women’s match.
NSW Blues: 1. Terrell Kalo Kalo, 2. Utuloa Asomua, 3. Paul Alamoti, 4. Brad Morkos, 5. Jack Bostock, 6. Thomas Weaver, 7. Jonah Pezet, 8. Max Bradbury, 9. Tyler Moriarty, 10. Justin Matamua, 11. Oryn Keeley, 12. Brandon Tumeth, 13. Trey Mooney, 14. Jack Cole, 15. Toby Couchman, 16. Larry Muagututia, 17. Jacob Webster, 18. Charlie Thompson, 19. Oskar Bryant, 20. Samuela Fainu, 21. Jaylan De Groot
Coach: Blake Cavallaro
Queensland Maroons: 1. Isaiah Iongi, 2. Jacob Mene, 3. Sosefo Fifita, 4. Robert Toia, 5. Xavier Chatfield-Mooka, 6. Harradyn Wilson, 7. Thomas Duffy, 8. Xavier Va’a, 9. Blake Mozer, 10. Paul Bryan, 11. Edward Hampson, 12. Jack Howarth, 13. Luke Jack, 14. Jye Gray, 15. Benjamin Te Kura, 16. Josiah Pahulu, 17. Kulikefu Finefeuiaki, 18. Ragarive Wavik, 19. Tane Kiriona , 20. Kaleb Ngamanu, 21. Shaun Packer, 22. Angus Hinchey
Coach: Ben Jeffries
HOW TO WATCH
Watch the under 19s men’s State of Origin exclusively live and free on 9Gem and 9Now.
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