The two teams from either side of the Tweed ready to do battle in the 2011 State of Origin Game 2 on Wednesday week have been released, the Blues making a number of controversial changes to their squad in another attempt to end Queensland’s dominance.
After going down in a brave 16 – 12 loss to the Maroons in the series opener last month, Blues coach Ricky Stewart has made a few tough calls in naming his New South Wales Origin game two line-up.
Originally naming Canberra Raiders Josh Dugan to resume in fullback for the Blues, an ankle injury Dugan sustained in the Raiders loss to the Cowboys last Sunday has ruled the gun No. 1 out of contention.
In a strange decision, Stewart has called on the services of veteran Sydney Roosters player Anthony Minichiello to play fullback for the Blues at ANZ Stadium in the second-round State v State showdown.
Minichello will make his first appearance in the Origin arena since 2007, and after the Dragons Brett Morris failed to receive a call-up from Stewart for Game II thanks to his decision to include Jarryd Hayne, questions have arisen over why it is ‘Mini’ and not Hayne out the back for the Blues.
Hayne was overlooked for Origin one with rumours that his poor attitude and recent below-par performance at club level for Parramatta had ruled him out of playing in the series.
But Stewart has named Hayne up there for game two, albeit in the No. 2 jersey on the wing.
Other new editions to the New South Wales team include Manly’s young Will Hopoate (No. 3) who will make his Origin debut, while Kurt Gidley (No. 14), Anthony Watmough (No. 16) and Luke Lewis (No. 17) have all made the cut this time.
To make room for these boys, Stewart has dropped Newcastle Knights’ flyer Michael Jennings, Jason King, Kade Snowden and Dean Young.
Meanwhile the legendary Mal Meninga has made just two changes to his Maroons outfit as Queensland attempt to win game two without the support of the home crowd and in turn secure their record-breaking sixth successive Origin series.
Willie Tonga, forced to sit out the second Origin clash due to injury, will be replaced by a resuming Greg Inglis in the No. 4 jumper while Jacob Lillyman has been pushed to 18th man in favour of big Dave Taylor getting a run from the bench.
The experience and strength behind sticking to the tried-and-true Blues’ crushers has ensured Queensland are the favourites to win Origin through leading online bookmaker Luxbet.
Luxbet have Queensland as the dominant $1.67 favourites for game two ahead of the Blues paying $2.20.
So whether you fancy the reign of the sunshine state stars to continue, or whether you believe a new era for the Blues is about to start, Luxbet have you covered.
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2011 State of Origin Game II Queensland Team
1. Billy Slater (Melbourne Storm)
2. Darius Boyd (St George Illawarra Dragons)
3. Dane Nielsen (Melbourne Storm)
4. Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
5. Jharal Yow Yeh (Brisbane Broncos)
6. Darren Lockyer (c) (Brisbane Broncos)
7. Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys)
8. Matt Scott (North Queensland Cowboys)
9. Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm)
10. Petero Civoniceva (Penrith Panthers)
11. Nate Myles (Sydney Roosters)
12. Sam Thaiday (Brisbane Broncos)
13. Ashley Harrison (Gold Coast Titans)
Bench: Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm), Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos), Dave Taylor (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Ben Hannant (Brisbane Broncos). 18th man: Jacob Lillyman (New Zealand Warriors)
2011 State of Origin Game II NSW Team
1. Anthony Minichiello (Sydney Roosters)
2. Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta Eels)
3. William Hopoate (Manly Sea Eagles)
4. Mark Gasnier (St George Illawarra Dragons)
5. Akuila Uate (Newcastle Knights)
6. Jamie Soward (St George Illawarra Dragons)
7. Mitchell Pearce (Sydney Roosters)
8. Paul Gallen (c) (Cronulla Sharks)
9. Michael Ennis (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
10. Tim Mannah (Parramatta Eels)
11. Beau Scott (St George Illawarra Dragons)
12. Ben Creagh (St George Illawarra Dragons)
13. Greg Bird (Gold Coast Titans)
Bench: Trent Merrin (St George Illawarra Dragons), Kurt Gidley (Newcastle Knights), Anthony Watmough (Manly Sea Eagles), Luke Lewis (Penrith Panthers)