Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of Origin II from ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Kick-off between New South Wales and Queensland is at 8.10pm.
Tonight’s clash is all about the Blues. Brad Fittler’s outfit must win on home soil to keep the series alive. After starting the series Winx-like favourites, defeat for NSW would rank among the greatest Origin disasters.
They weren’t far off the mark in game one but failure to convert a comfortable half-time lead allowed a resilient Maroons outfit the opportunity to secure a memorable victory. Fittler has responded with a series of changes, most notably at five-eighth where Cody Walker has been entrusted with steering the ship after Luke Keary failed to spark in Adelaide. With such a star studded squad NSW clearly have the cattle to level the series tonight, but it remains to be seen if they have the combinations to mould individual brilliance into fluid football.
For Queensland tonight is something of a free hit. Victory for this unheralded callow group would be the stuff of local legend, but defeat still leaves them with a series decider with home state advantage. Injuries have forced Wayne Bennett to dig even deeper into his already depleted squad, further reinforcing the Maroons’ underdog status, which is precisely how the veteran coach likes it.
After a comparatively genial opening contest in South Australia expect a bit more fire and brimstone this evening with a partisan crowd egging on the Blues and a host of former stars calling for a more confrontational clash. We should be in for a captivating spectacle.