If the Maroons can hold NSW in the middle and let loose their left-hand side attack of Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga and Corey Oates, they will win game one of the State of Origin series.
Who knows what Munster is going to do when he gets the footy? I’d hate to be defending against him.
Then if he gets caught up with the footy, he just has to ping it on to Ponga. Kalyn’s footwork is just amazing. We’ve watched him week-in and week-out just bamboozle the blokes trying to defend him.
He’s done that to Tyson Frizell and Angus Crichton recently and they are the blokes who will be defending on his side again on Wednesday night.
Munster is such a good foil for Ponga because he puts the defence in two minds, even more so than what Mitchell Pearce does for Newcastle.
Mitchell loves to run the ball as well and has taken a few opportunities himself, but the last couple of weeks his main go has been "just give it to Kalyn" and he has scored out of nothing.
I saw the story on NRL.com on Thursday where Munster said his mission was simply to set Ponga loose. If Munster plays this way, he will have a field day.
I reckon Queensland will direct most of their attack that way, and the NSW team talk will all be around getting their right-hand side defence right.
While NSW will know it is coming, stopping it will be another matter. In the forwards, the Maroons have the hard workers, guys like Jai Arrow and Josh McGuire, and that is where the contest will have to be won initially.
Josh Papalii and Arrow are a great combination as starting props. They did an excellent job in game three last year.
They are mobile and dangerous in their own right. Arrow is not big but we have seen him bust through tackles. Papalii is a bit of a wrecking ball and has an offload in him. He has had his best start to a season in a while.
A guy like Frizell will have to be nullified. He is such a machine. Paul Vaughan has been in great form and Jake Trbojevic can really play. He is not just a bust them up the middle forward. He is a ball distributor as well.
To counter that, Felise Kaufusi has stepped up his aggression for Melbourne and is hitting hard.
He is also a very good hole runner and he will be another weapon on the left-hand side with Matt Gillett back and playing on his preferred right side.
The Blues’ new halves combo of Cody Walker and Nathan Cleary is not a bad one. Cleary is the organiser and Walker will play what is in front of him. He is the guy Queensland will have to keep an eye on because we’ve seen all season how he can change the game at the drop of a hat for the Rabbits.
He is a proud Blues man and will want to make a statement. When all the forwards are tired that is where Walker will come into his own.
The battle between Will Chambers and Latrell Mitchell is going to be crucial. Latrell will be the Blues’ go-to man and the Maroons will probably double-team him. Will is going to have come from Latrell’s outside and push him back in because he is too elusive.
If he can get on the outside of him, it will make him try and run over the top of him or make him come back towards the defence in the middle. It is easier said than done. Latrell got injured in the Magic Round and has been very quiet the last couple of weeks but he will be ready to go for NSW.
I like the selection of Daly Cherry-Evans as captain. That will bring the best out of him because he will see it as a mission to direct the team and lead from the front. Daly thrives with that responsibility and I reckon he will be at his best and put in a man of the match performance.
The bench is where I reckon the Maroons have a slight advantage. Moses Mbye is a weapon who can play anywhere. He is tough and creative. I am a fan of the two new Broncos lads Joe Ofahengaue and David Fifita.
As a bench forward, Fifita can change a game. He is just so strong and Ofahengaue is a machine. Cameron Murray is a great prospect for NSW and Crichton is tough as nails. I just lean a bit more towards Queensland’s bench.
I'm tipping the Maroons to win by six. Can't wait for kick-off.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.
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