It’s State of Origin on Sunday, with the Blues and Maroons facing off tonight at Lang Park in Brisbane.
- Queensland haven’t lost at Lang Park since Game 1 in 2017
- Maroons to debut 18-year-old full-back Reece Walsh
- NSW have made two changes to their squad, with key forward Jake Trbojevic injured
The site, affectionately named Queensland’s Cauldron, has been a stronghold for the home side, winning 12 of Origin’s last 14 games at the site.
They haven’t lost there since Game 1 in 2017, but this time around it’s a whole different story.
Despite a sea of brown for Origin’s historic first game in a regional city, the Blues blitzed him with a record-breaking victory of 44 points.
New South Wales hold a 1-0 lead in the series after winning at Townsville and many would say the bridge is just too far away for Queensland to cross tonight.
So who could provide the key to a return to Queensland?
And how have the teams changed since Game 1? Including a late withdrawal on the side of the Maroons.
Here is our information on the pivotal game 2 in the Rugby League’s most beloved series.
Who does Queensland need to arrest?
“Turbo” Tom Trbojevic is the man the Maroons will seek to keep quiet the most.
The Blues center scored a hat trick in Game 1 for the Blues and mirrored that performance last weekend in the NRL underground for the Manly Sea Eagles.
Trbojevic claims to be one of the best in the game and even Maroons coach Paul Green is in awe.
“I don’t think you’re going to stop a guy like him completely, you know he’s in great shape,” Green said.
Latrell Mitchell has also proven that he has learned a thing or two under the guidance of super coach Wayne Bennett in South Sydney.
It has been revealed that Bennett made a controversial and motivating phone call to Mitchell ahead of Game 1 (even though Bennett is a proud Queenslander and the state’s most successful coach).
Mitchell crossed paths twice for the Blues in Townsville.
How are the sides?
It’s no surprise that NSW has tried to maintain the status quo since Game 1, with just two changes.
They added Roosters back rower Angus Crichton and Storm Dale Finucane forward to the squad.
Forward Jake Trbojevic is sidelined with a hip injury.
But by losing 50-6 in the first game, the Maroons had to shake things up.
Josh Papalii will return from suspension, while Dragons pair Andrew McCullough and Ben Hunt will also return to Origin football.
Harry Grant walked out with a hamstring injury.
The teenage debutante from Queensland
Eighteen-year-old and with just seven professional rugby league games under his belt, Warriors ‘Reece Walsh was set to make his debut, until the Maroons’ final practice session yesterday.
Since Ben Ikin in 1995, such a young player has donned the Maroons jersey (for the record, Ikin was only a few months younger and scored a try in his debut).
But Walsh will have to wait for his shot in the limelight after suffering low-intensity hamstring strain.
The Queensland Rugby League issued a statement that “Walsh needed treatment during the captain’s race .. and unfortunately will not be able to make his debut”.
He will be replaced tonight by another young rookie, Cronulla Sharks winger Ronaldo Mulitalo.
The Blues saw the writing on the wall and moved their camp from Sydney to Kingscliff on Monday, due to the current COVID situation.
They are missing two doctors and a physiotherapist who did not make it to Brisbane on time and will also now be subject to tighter restrictions given the unfolding situation in Sydney.
Because players on both sides play for clubs in the affected areas, the NRL has resorted to biosecurity protocols similar to those seen during the 2020 season.
Things like clean and dirty areas will be in place at Brisbane’s Lang Park tonight, players will also be subject to temperature checks upon arrival.
When is the kick-off?
Game 2 is scheduled for 7:50 p.m. in Brisbane, but expect nine broadcasters (who own the exclusive rights to the game) to keep the pre-game hype going.
How to watch or listen to Origin 2?
Nine’s nationwide telecast begins at 7:00 p.m. AEST.
The network will also make the game available on its streaming platform, 9now.
If you are abroad, you can stream it through the NRL website, although it does require a subscription.
ABC Sport will provide live radio coverage of the match across Australia.
You can also listen to Game 2 via the ABC Sport button on the ABC Listen app.
For those wishing to listen abroad, Radio Australia, BBC 5 Live Sports Extra and Gold AM from New Zealand will broadcast the ABC Sport call of the match.
If live blogging is more your thing, be sure to follow our digital coverage at abc.net.au/news/sport Sunday night.