NSW Blues, Queensland Maroons to make changes

Injuries and form will mean both State of Origin coaches will bring in new faces for game two of the series at Perth on June 26.

Maroons mentor Billy Slater and Blues coach Brad Fittler will wait until this week’s Round 15 matches before naming their 22-man squads with Queensland one win away from a shock series win after their 16-10 upset at Accor Stadium in the series opener.

The three-match series ends with the finale on Wednesday, July 13 in Brisbane.

Fittler has several selection headaches. Latrell Mitchell (hamstring) and Ryan Papenhuyzen (knee) are close to making returns after lengthy layoffs while Broncos duo Payne Haas and Kotoni Staggs are likely to be available despite niggling shoulder problems. 

The Rabbitohs have told the Blues not to pick Mitchell to return until the week after Origin when they face Parramatta at Accor Stadium on July 2.

Isaah Yeo sat out Round 14 due to the head knock he suffered in Origin I but is expected to return to club duty this weekend against the Warriors.

Fittler could also make changes based on form, particularly in the pack with Tariq Sims, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Ryan Matterson potentially paying the price for the six-point loss in Sydney, along with bench utility Stephen Crichton.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Newcastle teammates Jacob Saifiti and Tyson Frizell were the unused forwards in the game-one squad so they could be a chance to get a start at Optus Stadium.

South Sydney’s Campbell Graham or Canterbury five-eighth Matt Burton could be an option at centre if Staggs is unavailable or dropped.

Manly forward Haumole Olakau’atu is likely to opt to play for Tonga instead of NSW if he gets a call-up during the representative round against New Zealand while Daniel Tupou has told Fittler he wants to remain with the Blues for now although he is likely to represent the Pacific Island nation at the World Cup.

Josh Addo-Carr has staked his claim for re-selection into the Blues after scoring a hat-trick for the Bulldogs against Parramatta on Monday. Addo-Carr was one of the big names overlooked for Origin I.

Fittler’s decision to start Cameron Murray and Junior Paulo on the bench in a late switch for Liam Martin and Campbell-Gillard also backfired. 

He admitted with Murray in particular that the move didn’t work as the team had better go-forward when he came on midway through the first half.

Slater will need to find a new winger after Storm speedster Xavier Coates limped off in Origin I and has been ruled out for two months with a syndesmosis injury.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Xavier Coates of the Maroons receives attention after sustaining an injury during game one of the 2022 State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on June 08, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Xavier Coates. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Cowboys duo Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Murray Taulagi are in contention to replace Coates as both players were members of the extended squad for game one.

Slater said straight after the game that the North Queensland duo were the obvious candidates for the spot.

Cowboys second-rower Jeremiah Nanai is under a cloud after twisting his ankle in his Origin debut but even though he sat out last Friday’s win over St George Illawarra in Townsville, the club is confident the injury is not serious.

Veteran forward Felise Kaufusi is also free to play in Origin II after he was only fined for his controversial forearm to the head of Roosters playmaker Sam Walker on the weekend.

Warriors fullback Reece Walsh is a chance to get a call-up to the extended squad after just missing out in game one.

Possible NSW squad

1. James Tedesco
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Kotoni Staggs
4. Jack Wighton
5. Brian To’o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Cameron Murray
12. Liam Martin
13. Isaah Yeo

14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
16. Tariq Sims
17. Ryan Matterson
18. Nicho Hynes

19. Api Koroisau
20. Stephen Crichton
21. Tyson Frizell
22. Joseph Suaalii

Possible Queensland squad

1. Kalyn Ponga
2. Selwyn Cobbo
3. Valentine Holmes
4. Dane Gagai
5. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
6. Cameron Munster
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
9. Ben Hunt
10. Josh Papalii
11. Kurt Capewell
12. Felise Kaufusi
13. Reuben Cotter

14. Harry Grant
15. Lindsay Collins
16. Patrick Carrigan
17. Jeremiah Nanai
18. Jai Arrow

19. Tom Dearden
20. Murray Taulagi
21. Tom Flegler
22. Reece Walsh