Rugby league legend Cooper Cronk has signalled where the game will be won and lost for Queensland and New South Wales in Game II.
The Blues came into the series opener full of confidence before rookie coach Billy Slater knocked them down a peg with a tactical masterclass.
Queensland came away with a 16-10 win at Accor Stadium in Sydney and now Brad Fittler’s band of Blues will put it all on the line to secure a series decider.
Fittler has made several key changes to his NSW side, while Slater has only made changes out of necessity after injuries.
The former Storm and Maroons legend singled out the Blues middle forwards as the key to their victory, while pinpointing how Queensland can combat their rampaging pack.
BLUES’ RAMPAGING PACK
The NSW forward pack was heavily criticised following the series opener.
Pundits explained they were beaten convincingly in the ruck and provided minimal cover for star halfback Nathan Cleary to pull the strings.
Queensland’s forwards, including debutants Reuben Cotter and Patrick Carrigan, charged down the field off the back of quick ruck speed.
Meanwhile, the Blues struggled to dent Billy Slater’s well-drilled defensive line.
Now, Cronk has highlighted the NSW middle forwards as the key to cracking the game open and allowing Cleary, Luai and Tedesco to play free-flowing, attacking football.
“I think the key to the game will be the start of NSW’s forwards, if they get up and running at the start which I expect,” Cronk said to foxsports.com.au.
“Junior Paulo, Isaah Yeo, Payne Haas and Jake Trbojevic, you put those four down as the key for NSW for me.
“I think if they start well and get the momentum and the grunt that obviously Cleary and the like need, I think that is the key to NSW’s victory.”
Picture courtesy: nrl.com