Below are the team selections for State of Origin Game Two.
NSW have opted for only two specialist props for game two giving the team a more agile dynamic to it. Whether it was intended or not, game one saw the Blues’ agility produce good results on the left of the field with great success. There won’t be a huge difference with Paul Gallen moving from lock to prop as his lock play is generally very intimate with the ruck. Ricky Stuart would have made this change knowing that field position won’t be as vital a factor as possession will be. If NSW had the same amount of possession as QLD in game one, they probably would have won. Gallen knows how to position his side laterally in the best way that assists his halves Soward and Pearce.
ANTHONY MINICHELLO (NSW FULLBACK & SYDNEY CITY FULLBACK)
When the NSW game 1 fullback Josh Dugan lay on the Canberra Stadium turf on a Sunday afternoon writhing in agony, immediately people were wondering who would replace him for game 2. I don’t think too many people thought of Anthony Minichello. No one can argue how good Minichello was back in the day, but he hasn’t played for NSW since 2007 and didn’t even play for City this year before Origin 1. Minichello missed most games for the Roosters in ’07, ’08 and ’09 due to a reoccurring back injury and ankle injuries and it’s fair to say that although he is still a good player, he is nowhere near what he once was.
This selection baffles me that he could be selected at fullback with Jarryd Hayne on the wing. If Ricky Stuart has no intention of playing Hayne at fullback, I still can’t see how Minichello gets a spot in the side over Manly fullback Brett Stewart.
Is Ricky Stuart trying to tell Jarryd Hayne something?
DAVE TAYLOR (QLD INTERCHANGE & SOUTH SYDNEY SECOND ROWER)
Brought into the side to replace NZ’s Jacob Lilleyman, Dave Taylor has really pulled his finger out in the last couple of weeks to make selectors aware that he wants a spot in the team. Hopefully he keeps it going during the game and doesn’t rest on his laurels. One of his best attributes in recent weeks has been his kick-chase down the left hand side of the field but I don’t think there will be too much of that from QLD which could nullify his strengths to a degree. But that’s all part of Meninga’s plan having told Taylor to “play more like a forward.”
WILL HOPOATE (NSW CENTRE & MANLY WINGER/FULLBACK)
There’s no doubting this kid has natural talent. 19 years old and barely a rough edge on him. He possesses the ball handling skills of a seasoned veteran and overall is a great kid and I really hope his debut goes well for him. It’s just a shame he won’t be playing on the wing because NSW would have reaped the benefits in his great defence of kicks, plus he knows how to finish a try scoring movement.