OPINION

Why it's hard to see Queensland taking out Origin II

Queensland's selection of Andrew McCullough ahead of Origin II was an interesting one. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Queensland's selection of Andrew McCullough ahead of Origin II was an interesting one. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Queensland will be better in game II - playing at home, series on the line and still stinging from that shellacking a fortnight ago.

But will they be 45 points better? That's the pivotal question in my mind heading into Sunday's encounter at Suncorp Stadium.

And while the Maroons may be able to shave off at least some of that margin, I honestly can't see them turning it around by that much against NSW.

Because I feel, even though it was a one-sided result (50-6), the Blues can improve as well.

A lot of the senior players in the NSW camp would have taken the rookies aside this week and said "that wasn't a typical Origin contest" and "be ready for what's coming".

Origin is normally about grind, hanging in there, being patient and consistency. However, the Blues didn't have to do any of that in Townsville on June 9, with Queensland always on the back foot.

The challenge now for Brad Fittler's men will be to repeat that effort from game I, but do it with even more intensity and even more urgency.

And it must be from the get-go, because there's no time to merely dip your toe in the water.

The Queenslanders will be up for it. Heavily criticised and already down 1-0, they will bring a never-say-die attitude.

On top of that, the old Lang Park is always worth a few points and a parochial Maroons crowd makes life difficult for the visitors.

But when all the emotion and atmosphere subsides, who is going to lead and inspire Queensland out in the middle?

The home team will be looking to likes of Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster, but the key for me will be dominating the middle.

You can have the Ferrari parked out the back, but it's no good if you can't get it out of the garage.

The Maroons were completely obliterated up front last time around, with Christian Welch only playing 12 minutes and Josh Papalli out.

This is where they need to turn it around to have any chance of levelling the ledger, strengthening up the middle third in both defence and offence.

As well as applying more pressure on the NSW halves.

Reece Walsh at fullback and Andrew McCullough at hooker were interesting selections for Queensland, although forced by injury.

Walsh, with just seven NRL games under his belt, is a rising talent but will be tested in this arena while veteran McCullough provides stability around the ruck but not a lot of attacking flair.

The Blues had the luxury of making just one change, Angus Crichton in for the injured Jake Trbojevic, and with a short preparation that also helps proceedings in terms of continuity and connection.

And if that backline - with the likes of James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell - can pick up from where they left off, NSW will be hard to stop as they look to reclaim the trophy that slipped through their fingers at the end of last year.

WOMEN'S ORIGIN

Looking forward to this battle on Friday night. Although it's a one-off game at the moment between NSW and Queensland, I can see it forming into a series over the next couple of seasons.

As a stand-alone fixture the last few years, it has rated well on free-to-air television and showcases the skill and courage of these athletes to a wider audience.

The interstate battle also provides a springboard for the new-look NRLW kick starting in August with Gold Coast, Newcastle and Parramatta joining a now six-team competition.

CLUB WORLD

A couple of the top sides really flexed their muscles over the weekend, with Melbourne thrashing Wests Tigers 66-16 and the Rabbitohs leaving hosts Brisbane scoreless, 46-0.

Penrith also got the better of the Roosters, 38-12. I think they are going to be hard to beat.

And, all things being equal - and they get a healthy run - I think one of these teams should be winning the competition based on what we've seen so far.

Melbourne and Penrith seem to have both ends of the field under control, but my concern for Souths is when they don't have the ball.

This story Why it's hard to see Queensland taking out Origin II | Laurie Daley first appeared on The Canberra Times.