New South Wales go in heavy favourites for the second State of Origin clash despite being outcoached and outplayed in the opener. Here are The Wolf’s best bets for State Of Origin Game II.
The series opener may have been one of the great upsets in Origin history but the result came as no surprise to subscribers of The Wolf, who were all over the Maroons. Games don’t always go to script but Origin I certainly did with Wayne Bennett proving the critical difference between the teams.
It was an astonishing coaching effort from Bennett, arguably one of the finest of his decorated careers. He took a team of eight rookies – including one who was a late replacement just an hour before kickoff – who trailed by double digits at the break and guided them to victory. Bennett had a clear plan. He selected a team for it. The players executed it. It wasn’t complicated but it was super-effective.
That stood in stark contrast to Brad Fittler and the Blues. Fittler seemed intent on building a fantasy side, trying to jam as many big names as he could into the Blues team, picking players out of position and paying no consideration to balance. It completely bit the Blues in the backside. The makeshift centres were exposed. The bench was so poorly constructed that most could offer very little impact. It was an arrogant and unprepared Blues team that got their comeuppance.
The Blues return to Sydney and they certainly won’t be going in with the same attitude but this is not a team you want to be laying near double digits with. Boyd Cordner’s omission is a positive for the Blues considering his constant head injury concerns this year but the panic decision to dump Luke Keary will not sit well, particularly with Nathan Cleary yet to post an Origin try assist. The bench is better constructed but after being short on middles in one, they may be too long here. Angus Crichton starting on the left edge does not boost confidence.
The Maroons lost two of their best players from the opener in AJ Brimson and Christian Welch. Brimson is replaced by Valentine Holmes though and Welch fulfilled a very simple role that the very good Moeaki Fotuaika should be able to replicate.
This game will give no fear to the Maroons. They have split the last eight in Sydney and the last eight at ANZ have all been decided by a single score.
Queensland may not win this but they should keep this close and make the Blues earn a win on home turf.
The series opener had the highest State of Origin total points line in nearly 15 years so the under was an outstanding bet and it saluted fairly comfortably. It has dropped from 41.5 to 39.5 but is still a quality play. There is a key number here worth accounting for: just five of the last 20 live games have surpassed 34 combined points. Queensland have surpassed 18 in just two of their last 10 and will again be trying to win in a grind. In the last 10 meetings in Sydney, only one has surpassed 34 points.
Cowboys fullback Valentine Holmes is absolutely outstanding value to score a try in this one. His Origin scoring record is insane. In five Origins he has scored eight tries. He has crossed in every game. He has 25 tries in 18 rep games. Yes, he is playing fullback and not on the wing but he is just a tremendous tryscorer.
Cherry-Evans was a tackling machine in the series opener when NSW seemed to send plenty of traffic his way. That is likely to continue after his Man of the Match performance. He made 28 tackles in the opener and projects to top 30 this time. Gutherson and Capewell are in this market and sit out in the centres so they would surprise. Nathan Cleary is the only threat in this one but the Maroons are unlikely to seek him out given how ineffective he has been.
Josh Papalii is universally recognised as the best prop in the game and that makes him a very real runner for Man of the Match honours. Middle forwards win plenty of gongs, particularly those with a big workrate and those who can create a highlight moment. Papalii ticks both boxes.
SAME GAME MULTI
Josh Addo-Carr Try/Under 39.5/Queensland +9.5 ($8.00)
Queensland are again outstanding value getting the big start so have to be included in any same game multi. As noted above, 15 of the last 20 live games have failed to surpass 34 points so playing the under 39.5 is a must. Josh Addo-Carr has scored in five of seven Origins and comes in hot after a double in the opener.