Queensland selector Darren Lockyer has advised that there may be late changes to the Maroons’ starting squad ahead of Game II on Sunday.
Immortal Wally Lewis asked Lockyer if Ben Hunt would start again at hooker with Harry Grant coming off the couch.
Lockyer seemed taken aback by the question before revealing that coach Billy Slater could be tinkering with the 17 this week.
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“Well, maybe there are some late changes,” Lockyer said on WWOS.
But Lockyer was quick to emphasize that the Maroons coaches were happy with how Hunt and Grant combined one win in their match.
“The concept is that Ben (Hunt) takes the sting out of the game and allows Harry to do his thing — and he was very good in game one,” said Lockyer.
The panel also discussed whether Patrick Carrigan – who nearly won man-of-the-match in the opener from the bench – would start.
“Sometimes when I get to these big games I look at the bench before I look at the 1-13 because the bench plays a big part in the… result of the game,” said Lockyer.
“Our bench was really, really good game one, and I think Billy thinks Carrigan was so good (because) he came off the bench (and) he wants the same effort or the same impact.”
FREDDY TO BEAR THE DEBT
NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler will have to take the blame if his many changes don’t bring a win against Queensland in State of Origin Game II on Sunday.
That is the opinion of the Daily Telegram‘s Paul Crawley after Fittler made big changes to his side following a 16-10 loss in the series opener.
According to Crawley, Fittler was his biggest critic and his sweeping changes are an admission that the selectors were wrong.
“They’ve made a lot of changes as they lost six points I think it’s an admission that NSW were wrong,” Crawley continued. NRL 360†
“I think Billy definitely outsmarted him, NSW admitted they were wrong through their Game II team selections.
“NSW’s biggest critic has been their own coach as he is the one who spent months finishing his first team.
“Then a six point loss, he made massive changes and went into this game thinking he picked a better side and probably picked a better side.
“But if they don’t aim this time, it’s Brad Fittler who has to carry the result.”
The question was raised whether rookie coach Billy Slater beat Fittler, who led NSW 13 times.
But, looking at the Queensland coaching staff, including Slater and Maroons legend Cameron Smith, Crawley believes NSW should have seen an ambush coming.
“You’re asking, did Billy coach him? Of course they did,” Crawley said.
“Queensland outsmarted him, they played away, they played with more momentum, more speed in the ruck, the pressure they put on Nathan determined the game.
“They went out with a plan and the plan worked, and I think Billy was a first coach, so you didn’t know what style he was coming up with other than the fact that he’s been playing in Melbourne his whole career.
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“He’s got Cameron Smith on their staff, you don’t have to be a genius to know what they’re going to do.”
FITTLER’S RUCK CLAIM QUESTIONED
After the game, ‘Freddy’ was disappointed with the way his side handled the Maroons’ ruck tactics and the NRL 360 panel believes the Blues should have expected them from the start.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the speed difference between NSW and the Queensland ruck was only marginal – with 0.2 seconds between the sides.
“I’ve been led to believe it wasn’t justified (Fittler’s critique), I’ve been led to believe the speed of the ruck and the play of the balls in Origin. I was faster than they are in an average NRL game and the difference between NSW and Queensland was a split second,” said Crawley.
“In maybe a dozen tackles through the game that are really critical moments in the game, that’s where Queensland did their job at NSW, which is just smart coaching.
“It’s not an exaggeration, it’s just doing it the right way.”
“How was NSW surprised by Queensland’s tactics? That’s the bit I’ve questioned,” Kent said.
“Queensland recognized it early on, we saw Tino Fa’asuamaleaui there looking at the referee with a player down, knowing he has a few seconds left,” said Anasta.
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“I haven’t seen any NSW player do that.”
“That’s the problem, why, why is NSW only just discovering this in the game. Brad Fittler is in his 13th game as Origin coach, Billy Slater in his first, Billy knew, Freddy didn’t,” said Kent.
“Jack Wighton was so deflated they didn’t pick it up,” Riccio said.
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