They have built a dynasty on it but if Queensland is to have one last stand for its incomparable team then the axe must not only be wielded, but flourished for Game 2.
The Maroons no doubt missed a number of key pieces in Game 1 that they had relied on for the better part of a decade. It was their first run over that time without Johnathan Thurston. Greg Inglis sits atop the Origin tryscoring list. Corey Parker and Matt Scott have been the Maroons’ two most reliable go-forward men. None were available.
If Queensland are to save this series, they must look to the future while throwing back to two legends. The policy of sticking fat has to end. If the Maroons field the same team in Game 2 with just the addition of Johnathan Thurston, they will be blown off the paddock.
New South Wales’ success was built on their young and aggressive pack playing fast and furious. They played with a controlled ferocity and limit-pushing speed that the Maroons could not cope. The masters at taking advantage of a Blues error, Queensland never got a break. The weak links in the Maroons chain soon left a dream broken.
Queensland need to match it. It is time to bring a new guard of Queensland forward in. Players who run hard, hit hard, think hard. Whatever disappointments the Maroons suffered in the series opener, Dylan Napa certainly wasn’t one of them. He should be joined at ANZ by young Cowboys bull Coen Hess, tireless Titans middle Jarrod Wallace and Storm duo FeliseKaufusi and Tim Glasby. Ethan Lowe should also come into reckoning.
Nate Myles needs to be the first forward to go. His club football has been awful for years. His Origin performances have now caught up. It is hard to see out-of-form forwards Aidan Guerra or Jacob Lillyman keeping their positions either. Each provided nothing off the bench, a startling contrast to the NSW bench that saw Wade Graham and David Klemmer play instrumental roles in NSW success.
It is a gamble but really, it is Queensland’s only choice.
Kevin Walters and the selection panel must also swallow their pride and recall Billy Slater. His controversial omission caused the biggest fissures in the state since Joh Bjeke-Pietersen. Darius Boyd is a classy player but he is equally competent on the wing and at the end of the day, selectors plumped for Justin O’Neill over Slater. It was a moronic decision at the time and after eight missed tackles and one of the worst performances in Origin history, it will surely be rectified.
Michael Morgan can be no certainty to retain his bench position either. Anthony Milford looked dangerous and is in much better form.
It sure looks like the dynasty is done. The hordes of Blue are at the gates. Queensland may have one last stand in them but if they do it will come on the back of wholesale generational change in Game 2.