The Maroons will require a monumental effort and some fresh troops to stop the new look, energized Blues in Sydney in Game 2.
It was an impressive performance by 11 rookies and their new coach – which has breathed some genuine excitement back into the Origin concept – after such a long period of dominance by QLD.
The exceptional foot speed and evasive skills of the NSW team caused the Queenslanders to miss over 50 tackles – which is something they normally pride themselves on.
And I am not just referring to their quick outside backs – such as James Tedesco, Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell – but their forwards Regan Campbell-Gillard, David Klemmer, Boyd Cordner and Damian Cook who made big inroads in the middle third.
The Blues controlled the ball brilliantly with a completion rate of over 90% and their halves kicked intelligently to keep QLD deep inside their own half for much of the game.
And they took advantage of the limited opportunities that Origin allows – by scoring four well executed tries to seal the victory.
QLD will have to review the game closely - to make the necessary improvements after a slightly disrupted preparation – to improve their performance in game 2.
I don’t think there is any need for panic – but QLD will bring back some experience including Billy Slater and Matt Scott or possibly Darius Boyd and Matt Gillett (if he can prove his fitness).
Will Kevin Walters show the normal QLD solidarity to his team or will he make some adjustments including the halves - because Cameron Munster and Ben Hunt are very similar type of players – while Michael Morgan is the current Test five-eighth.
NSW won’t need to change anything (subject to injuries) and their team will only get better as they spend more time together in camp on the training paddock.
The shorter turnaround between Origin games should make the recovery for the players and their clubs much better as the 2nd game is a stand-alone fixture for the first time in Origin history on a Sunday evening in less than three weeks.
Tipping the winners in NRL games (post Origin) is always a tricky business as coaches assess the fatigue and injuries of their best players as they get their teams prepared during this period.
There are plenty of theories about the benefit of players backing up for their clubs quickly (i.e. the Panthers V Canberra tomorrow night) before the soreness kicks in versus a more delayed return on Sunday afternoon with the Bulldogs up against the Dragons and the Storm taking on Brisbane.
Most players pride themselves on backing up after Origin and I am expecting the star-studded Roosters will have James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Dylan Napa and their captain Boyd Cordner available to take on the Knights.
This game will be critical to the Roosters hopes of pushing their way into the top four but it is also provides a huge opportunity for Newcastle to close the gap on the top 8 if they can show some resilience against quality opposition.
The Knights stopped the bleeding after four straight losses with a much better performance against the Eels – including their best defensive effort of the year.
This week is the perfect chance to show their fans that they are capable of a much better performance or possibly a boil over at home – which has been sadly lacking in recent times.
They could do far worse than show the same type of fight and determination as the Tigers did last week against the Roosters who very nearly snatched a victory in the dying seconds.
Panthers, Rabbitohs, Warriors, Roosters, Cowboys, Sharks, Storm, Dragons.