After a disappointing Origin game one, Paul Green and his Queensland squad is looking to bounce back. Queensland will try something different in game two, making five changes to the side that lost to New South Wales in Townsville. Alexander Brimson, Harry Grant, Jaydn Su’A, Joe Ofahengaue, and big-name Xavier Coates have all found themselves out of the Maroons squad. The biggest in is the 18-year-old Reece Walsh, who will take the full-back position.
With Queensland needing to win game two in Brisbane to keep the series alive, the pressure is on. After being dominated in the midfield in game one, Queensland will be hoping for big games out of Papalii, who missed game one due to suspension. Christian Welch will also play an essential role in the middle, after lasting just 12 minutes in game one when he was concussed.
Ahead of the Queensland players entering camp, coach Paul Green faced the media, where he spoke extensively on Reece Walsh.
“I think it’s a great opportunity. It’s a great story. He is passed every test he has had to go through so far.
Paul Green was delighted to make the phone call to offer Walsh a spot in the Maroons side.
“They are great calls to make, at first they think you’re geeing them up. That it’s is not actually me ringing them it’s one of their mates. But he did not have a lot to say at the start. Once it sunk in, he was just really pleased to get a start for the Maroons.”
When asked about whether Walsh could stand up that level, Green was adamant he has the traits to thrive.
“He’s certainly got the confidence, he’s not afraid to back himself. A good trait in most good players is if they make a mistake, they can get themselves back in the game pretty quickly and he has been able to do that.”
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With Queensland being able to have both Josh Papalii and Christian Welch in the middle. Green seems more confident in the Maroons ability to defend.
“A bit more experience having Josh and Christian out there for a bit longer, it’s an area we need to be better no doubt. It’s a bit better-balanced line up that can hopefully fix some of the areas we need to be better in.”
With Queensland having such a rough game one. Green was quick to address the areas that the side will need to improve.
“The middle, the control through the middle and the start we need to get off to a better start. We had a pretty good week at training, so there won’t be too many changes from my point of view.”
With game two being played on a Sunday night rather than a Wednesday, Green explained the shorter preparation.
“The shorter prep means you don’t have as much time as those 10-day camps. So it’s really important we bank a good week of training, so that’s why we picked the fit guys.”
Xavier Coates is a massive out for Queensland, but it was understandable to leave him out after a disappointing performance in game one. Green spoke openly on why he has left Coates out of the side.
“It wasn’t by any stretch his fault how we played game one. But with having Reece (Walsh) at the back, having some more experienced guys on the wing there would help Reece in particular. So, I wasn’t too disappointed with Xavier’s game. I’m sure he’ll be back in the Maroons jersey at some stage in the future.”
Dane Gagai and Cameron Munster both were disappointing in game one with illness and injury. However, Green is fully expecting them to come back firing for game two.
“Gags (Gagai), in particular, didn’t have a great week. He was in the hospital for a few days with tonsillitis. He’s as motivated as anyone to play better.”
Queensland will go into game two as underdogs against a New South Wales side who looks to be in complete control of their game. With a big focus on the 18-year-old debutant of Reece Walsh, Paul Green will need to shield the young man from the outside distractions that come with Origin. However, with some key in’s and game two being back in Brisbane, this will be Queensland’s best opportunity at a win.
The Queensland Maroons will take on the New South Wales Blues on Sunday night live from Suncorp Stadium. The kick-off will be at 7:55 pm.
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