The streak is on the line for the NSW Blues when they take on the Queensland Maroons in a blockbuster Do or Die Origin II clash at Optus Stadium in Perth.
The Blues have made massive changes in a desperate attempt to square up the series and force a decider at Suncorp Stadium, while the Maroons can wrap up the series with a Game 2 win.
Read on for the latest in Origin II prep.
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Sun 26 June
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BLUES PUBLIC ENEMY NO.1 MOTHER IS BANTED FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
Blues star Liam Martin’s mother has been banned from the internet by her children amid furor surrounding her son being branded a chow by Queensland.
Martin was branded the Blues’ biggest grub since Paul Gallen by the Queensland media and his mother Maxine was protective of her son in light of what she felt was unfair.
“When it happened, it was like the mama bear came out in me,” Maxine told 2Day FM’s Hughesy, Ed and Erin.
“When I watched the game I saw more facials than a beauty salon, they are all hard there.
“I immediately called my kids when I read it, and they banned me from reading on the internet, banned me from their social networks.
“It’s not a pretty label – public enemy No. 1… or the food – it’s not a pretty label and I think, ‘woah, what’s going on here?’.
“When it first came out, I had a sleepless night on it.”
SLATER ADMITS GAME LOSS A HERO WILL CHANGE BENCH ROTATION
Queensland manager Billy Slater admits he will have to alter his trade rotation following the loss of Game 1 star Reuben Cotter.
The versatile Cowboys striker played 80 minutes on his debut meaning Josh Papalii played reduced minutes and Cotter gave Slater more flexibility in Game 1, a luxury he won’t have in Perth .
“Absolutely; he (Cotter) brought a lot and was a big part of what happened,” Slater told reporters.
“You have to rethink how you use your bench when you have a guy who played 80 like him.”
Meanwhile, Maroons hooker Harry Grant has paid tribute to Queensland’s coaching staff and the influence Cameron Smith had on his and Ben Hunt’s performances in the opener.
“He was huge, and Billy, what they did for a lot of young players at the Storm and now at Origin camp, very special,” Grant said.
“It’s a different brand of football that they’ve played a lot of, so having them so accessible to pick their brains is great for us.
“They are so out there, easy to understand and give the information you need and ask for.”
FITTLER MAKES NO EXCUSES FOR MAJOR CHANGES
New South Wales manager Brad Fittler has refused to apologize for making seven changes for the Blues to win against the Maroons in Origin II.
Fittler raised eyebrows for making so many changes despite his side almost forcing extra time in their 16-10 loss, but before the Perth clash Fittler was defiant.
“I have to pick a team that’s going to win and I don’t apologize for that,” Fittler said.
“It’s been a great week of training and I feel like we made some good decisions.”
Fittler made the changes in order to get a reaction from his players and the team and believes losing Game 1 won’t mean an automatic turnover in Game 2.
“We reacted,” Fittler said of his team’s response to the first loss.
“I think we went out and noted that we could do some things better. We have trained accordingly but that gives you no guarantees.
“We have to get there, just because you lost first doesn’t mean anything.”
FARAH BELIEVES THE BLUES HOOKER GAMBLE IS A LATE GAME
Former Blues hooker Robbie Farah believes Panthers star Api Koroisau should have been the starting hooker for Game 1 but backed the call to play Damien Cook on the bench.
The Blues were outplayed on the ruck in the first game and Farah believes connecting Penrith will help the team early on and allow Cook to play to his strengths at the end of each half.
“I like it,” Farah told Fox Sports News.
“I thought he should have been there for the first game to be honest.
“I like Cooky coming off the bench using his speed against tired forwards.
“It also worked well for Queensland in the first game with Harry Grant coming off the bench.
“Makes sense. Api has the combination of Penrith there with Cleary and Luai in the half so he will be quite comfortable.
“Then we have the impact of Cook coming off the bench against a tired squad.”
Farah thinks Cook’s speed and running game was negated by the amount of defense he had to do at the start of Game 1.
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“I think it helps to have Api and then Isaah Yeo in the middle doing a lot of ball playing alongside Cleary and Luai,” Farah said.
“I think it gives us a better balance across the park.
“Why waste Cook’s impact in the first 20 minutes when he’s doing all the D?
“Api can take control of the game and then Freddy can inject Cook at the right time in the game.”
However, Farah believes NSW need to improve defensively to allow their strong attack to play at the back.
“I think the attack wasn’t really our problem,” Farah said.
“I think defensively we weren’t where we should have been.
“We conceded a few soft tries that you don’t really see in Origin, so defensively we have to be much better.”
Farah backed NSW to win and set up a successful decider in Brisbane.
“I think we’re going to win and obviously we have to win,” Farah said.
“We have won here in the past. A fast lane. We can’t be as bad as we were in Game 1 and Queensland obviously came away with the win, but I think we’ll be much better and take it out on a decider.
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