NSW coach Laurie Daley is refusing to abandon his defensive approach to State of Origin and will rely on the Blues holding out Queensland in their do-or-die encounter on Wednesday.
NSW must upset the Maroons at Suncorp Stadium to keep the series alive or face the ignominy of a possible clean sweep, and maybe even a cleanout, back in Sydney for game three.
But despite mounting pressure to unleash the shackles and shelve his conservative game plan, Daley insists he will stick to his guns and attempt to blunt the Maroons’ legendary attack in Brisbane.
Another loss would result in his third failed campaign in four tries.
“If you look through Origin history, NSW haven’t put together scorelines on Queensland. And if you go and have a look, there’s not too many times we’ve scored 20-plus or more,” Daley said on Tuesday.
“We’re comfortable if we can get enough points, we can defend. We were criticised for our attack (in game one), but we scored the same amount of tries as Queensland and they’re a great team.”
The Blues were caught by surprise when their captain’s run on the old Lang Park was hijacked by a Maroons highlight reel organised for guests of a luncheon hosted by Queensland’s Former Origin Greats on Tuesday.
Players and NSWRL officials alike were bewildered when a continual loop of Maroons tries were shown at either end of the ground, with Queensland stars lapping up each celebration.
The cruel reminder capped off a disrupted week’s preparation for Daley and his men, who lost first-choice selections Wade Graham (suspension) and Josh Morris (injury) in the lead-up to the match.
Rookies Tyson Frizell and Jack Bird were rushed into the match-day 17 that Daley declared ready to face the music in front of what is expected to be a typically raucous Queensland crowd.
“All the guys that have come in have known their role and know what’s required,” he said.
“It’s unlucky for J-Moz (Morris) and Wade, but Tyson’s been waiting for his opportunity and Dylan now gets a chance in the starting side and Jack Bird gets an opportunity. I’m really excited to see how they go.”
In another blow to Daley’s plan for game two, referees boss Tony Archer opted to retain Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton for the match, despite the Blues coach calling for their axing after game one.
Daley changed his tune on Tuesday.
“He believes that these two guys are the best referees and I’ve got no reason to doubt him,” Daley said.
“I’m sure they’ll come up here with an open mind and referee the game to the best of their ability. It’s a tough job, I certainly wouldn’t want to be a referee.”