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NRL: State of Origin game two Blues squad announced

New South Wales coach Brad Fittler has made sweeping changes to his squad for game two of State of Origin with six players being axed from the squad.

After losing game one 16-10, there had been much debate over whether Fittler should keep the changes to a minimum or go big, and he has opted for the latter.

Some would suggest that the changes are an admission by Fittler that he got it wrong in game one.

That would be a bit harsh considering there was nothing between the two sides and on another night the result could have gone the other way.

It would be more fair to say that Fittler is a flexible coach that is not scared to make changes where he sees fit. It also highlights the strength in depth that Fittler has available to him.

It can be argued that the Blues side that takes to the pitch at Optus Stadium will be stronger than game one. Fittler obviously thinks so. So lets take a look at the changes made.

What: New South Wales v Queensland
Where: Optus Stadium, Perth.
When:  19:50 (AEST)  Sunday 26th June, 2022
Odds: New South Wales 41/50,  Queensland 1/1

The players left out

Seven players that were in Fittler’s squad for game one will not make the trip to Perth.

One was enforced due to illness with Canberra Raiders star Jack Wighton missing out. The absence of Wighton is a big blow as he had a great game at left-centre and grabbed the opening try of the game.

It has also been suggested that both Jacob Saifiti and Tyson Frizzel are carrying knocks and that is why they have been left out of the squad.

Parramatta duo Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Ryan Matterson and Dragons star Tariq Sims have been dropped and that is no doubt a tactical change by Fittler after the Blues forwards were out-muscled by their Queensland counterparts in game one.

Brisbane Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs is the other player to be left out.

The players coming in

Manly star Jake Trbojevic, who was a surprise omission in game one, make his return to the squad along with Sydney Roosters back-rower Angus Crichton.

Matt Burton and Siosifa Talakai are both set to make their debuts, Victor Radley, Clint Gutherson and Jordan McLean are the others to get the nod from Fittler.

Players over-looked

Just the one really. Josh Addo-Carr was a surprise absentee from the squad for game one and has been left out once again.

The Foxx has done all he can to earn a recall by impressing for the Bulldogs. He even scored a hat-trick of tries against Wests Tigers on Sunday.

However Fittler has his reasons for leaving him out and Daniel Tupou will once again get the nod on the wing.

How will the Blues take to the pitch?

So Fittler has his squad that will travel to Perth but he will have to narrow it down to a match-day 17.

As far as changes to the starting line-up are concerned. Burton will be handed his debut in the centres along with Stephen Crichton, who was on the interchange bench in game one. The duo will start in place of Wighton and Staggs. Burton on the left, Crichton on the right.

Forwards Sims and Campbell-Gillard will be replaced by Angus Crichton and Trbojevic, Talakai is set to make his debut off the bench, replacing Matterson from game one. Apisai Koroisau is also set to be squeezed into the 17 somewhere and his versatility will be a huge bonus for Fittler.

Joseph Suaalii, Nicho Hynes, Clint Gutherson, Victor Radley and Jordan McLean are expected to be the five reserves,

Fittler’s thoughts

Whatever decision coach Fittler made about the make up of his squad, questions would always be raised. Coaches live and die by such decisions and only time will tell if he has made the right call this time.

However Fittler himself is happy with his selections and says the changes needed to be made for the do-or-die clash. It is a game the Blues simply have to win.

"We need to pick some players who are going to win. It's all based around winning State of Origin," Fittler told 9News Sydney after the squad was announced.

"You pick players for impact, whether they're starting or coming off the bench. At the end of the day, you want to see what sort of impact they have on the biggest stage."

Maroons coach Billy Slater will name his squad on Monday morning but do not expect the same amount of changes.

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