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NRL: State of Origin game two Maroons squad announced

Queensland coach Billy Slater has named his squad for game two of State of Origin and as expected he has kept the changes to a minimum as the Maroons look to wrap up the series in Perth.

Queensland are in the box seat after winning game one 16-10 and Slater has kept faith with the players that did the job at Accor Stadium in Sydney.

He was forced into two changes due to injuries and has also padded out his extended squad with a few fresh faces but there are no surprises.

The Maroons are now set to train in Queensland during the start of the week before heading over to Perth on Thursday.

Most of the pressure is on New South Wales as it is a game they simply have to win to keep the series alive before heading to Brisbane for game three.

However expectation levels have risen following Queensland’s performance in game one and they face a big week in camp to make sure they are ready to fire come Sunday. So let’s take a look at Slater’s squad for game two.

What: New South Wales v Queensland
Where: Optus Stadium, Perth.
When:  19:50 (AEST)  Sunday 26th June, 2022
Odds: New South Wales 39/50,  Queensland 21/20

Players left out

Slater has been forced to leave three players out of his squad to injury. Both Xavier Coates and Reuben Cotter are facing spells on the sidelines. Without a doubt both would have retained their place had they been fit.

Slater had known about Coates for some time after he limped out of game one with an ankle issues. The Melbourne Storm star has been booked in for surgery and will not feature again in this series.

The injury to Cotter was a late setback. The forward suffered a hamstring injury while warming up ahead of North Queensland’s game against Manly on Friday night.

Cotter was a revelation in game one and his loss is a big blow for Slater. The player is looking at three to five weeks on the sidelines and is now in a race against time to make game three.

Finally North Queensland star Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has been left out of the squad due to concussion.

Players brought in

Brisbane winger Corey Oates, Gold Coast back-rower Beau Fermor and New Zealand Warriors fullback Reece Walsh have all been added to the extended squad to fill the void left by the injured players.

The return of Walsh is a nice boost for the player after he suffered disappointment in the 2021 Origin series.

The youngster was set to make his debut in game two last year, only to suffer an injury at the last minute to rule him out.

Walsh is unlikely to get on to the Optus Stadium pitch but it will be good for him to be back in camp nonetheless.

How will the Maroons take to the pitch?

Due to the loss of Coates and Cotter, Slater is forced into a reshuffle, but the disruption will be kept to an absolute minimum.

North Queensland winger Murray Taulagi will step into the side to replace the injured Coates in a like-for-like swap.

Elsewhere Jai Arrow will get his shot at redemption when he takes his place on the interchange bench. The South Sydney star was the 18th man in game one but will now get his chance in the 17.

It means Lindsay Collins will move from the bench to a starting spot in the Maroons pack. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui will move from prop to lock, replacing the injured Cotter.

Importantly, that will allow Pat Carrigan to play the same role that he did in game one. The Brisbane Broncos star was a revelation and will need to do it again in game two.

New South Wales will have a new-look forward pack as they look to make amends for game one and Queensland will have to be ready for the test.

Slater’s thoughts

Much was made of the raft of changes made by New South Wales coach Brad Fittler, but Slater says that is of no concern to him and he is just staying focused on the Maroons.

Slater is however expecting both sides to raise their game which means another exciting encounter is in store.

"I don't know what they're thinking," Slater said when asked if the Blues are panicking. "That's the position they're in, they will field a quality team no matter who they pick. I'm expecting everyone from NSW to improve and us too."

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