NSW broke their drought on his broken arm before he returned to break their hearts in the series-opener this year, but the Blues insist Queensland are still a formidable threat without Cooper Cronk.
The Maroons halfback was officially ruled out of State of Origin II on Monday after succumbing to a knee injury in last Saturday night’s victory over Penrith.
He is expected to miss up to a month of NRL action.
Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans is set to be named in his place on Tuesday afternoon and the Blues are adamant their interstate rivals are just as strong with him calling the shots.
“They’ll be missing Cooper obviously but they have Daly there who is a wonderful young player,” said returning winger Brett Morris.
“That’s the thing with Queensland – whoever they put in there, you know they’re going to do a great job.”
NSW took full advantage of Cronk’s absence when he busted his arm early in Origin I last year, and then broke Queensland’s eight-year reign in the Origin arena with the Melbourne ace still recovering on the sideline.
Morris says the early call on Cronk’s injury this week means the Maroons will spend most of their camp honing the combination of Cherry-Evans and five-eighth Johnathan Thurston.
“This time they’ll have the full preparation with Daly having the whole camp to get through all the training,” he said.
“Obviously he had prepared for a different role (in game one, 2014) and had to come in and fill in so we know we have to be on our game because he’s a wonderful player.”
Blues coach Laurie Daley said he expected Cherry-Evans to rise above the criticism he has copped since reneging on his lucrative deal with Gold Coast just last week.
The 26-year-old was even booed by sections of the Suncorp Stadium crowd during last week’s defeat to Brisbane.
“Cooper’s a magic player,” Daley said.
“But Daly’s a wonderful player and I’m sure he’ll be keen to get into camp and put what’s happened in the last couple of days aside and focus on playing for Queensland.
“To be fair, a lot of our preparation’s done on us rather than what we do on Queensland.
“But he’s a great player and he’s been there now for a few times and he’ll go out there and play well.”
It is just the second game Cronk has missed for Queensland since making his Origin debut in 2010.