State of Origin series goes to a decider

In 2011, they scored 24 points in the opening 20 minutes of Darren Lockyer's farewell.

Why Blues can win: More of the same.

Winger Corey Oates is the most unlucky of the seven players gone from Game One; he was one of the best in a beaten team, but a need for more sting on kick returns and a desire to debut in-form Kangaroos winger Valentine Holmes meant Oates made way. "He's one of the smallest blokes who'll ever play our game, but possibly one of the toughest".

Left out of the Maroons' Origin I caning - due in part to concerns over his perceived hesitancy in defence after nearly two years out of the game - Slater is bracing for a torrid reception from the Blues, who have identified his injury as a focal point on Wednesday night.

Mitchell Pearce of the Blues celebrates scoring a try during State of Origin game two.

Few encounters in the Origin narrative have followed the "game of two halves" narrative so spectacularly, and the looming end of the Maroons' dominant era was building on the back of the struggles of their legendary spine.

"It's a little bit tender, but it's a lot better than I thought it would be", he told reporters outside the Maroons' hotel. "I suppose it's going to be different for game two". Obviously I wanted to get my shoulder back as strong as possible for life in general.

"Obviously there's pressure going into the game. but everyone is confident and looking forward to tonight".

The match could become a swan song for a number of Queensland stars, with Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater also yet to confirm if they will play on next year.

The experience didn't necessarily give him a new perspective on the game.

Just a few weeks ago, the Broncos mentor was gruffly calling for critics to lay off the former National Football League star after his turbulent start to 2017 with the Gold Coast Titans and reported angst within the club's playing group surrounding his training habits. He's probably the most passionate guy I've been coached by and I know how much this jersey and this team means to him. It was right there in front of me but I couldn't be a part of it the way I wanted to be a part of it. "We knew if we'd get down there, we'd get the ball across the chalk".

Every office south of the border has one - a token Queenslander.

Slater was keen to stress there was no bad blood between the pair despite their competition for the position being portrayed in some circles as some sort of personal rivalry.

Pressed on whether the game would descend into Wrestlemania, Walters replied: "I haven't seen Hulk Hogan around".

I think NSW is facing a side that it should have been taking on in the first game, with JT the only one missing through injury.

"We've always floated between ordinary and good, and sometimes fleetingly we'll have a great moment".

The Queenslanders, with the experience of captain Cameron Smith (a record 41 matches) were unrattled.

Slater turned 34 on Sunday and knows he is nearing the end of his celebrated career but still plays with the joy of the kid that started his career in Innisfail nearly three decades ago.

Asked whether roughing Slater up could work, NSW skipper Boyd Cordner said: "I suppose it can".

"If he's buggered, the defenders either side are so nervous, then you manipulate the holes inside and outside him".

  • Angelo Rivera