Origin Game 2: Player Ratings & Talking Points

James Baxter
Sun, 23 Jun, 10:00 PM




  1. Kalyn Ponga 5/10

Brought down to Earth after his impressive game one. From the moment he was smashed in his kick return, Ponga knew he’d be in for a far tougher game this time around. Was beaten from a standing start for the first try while also conceding a 40/20. He continued to put his body on the line but not his night.

  1. Corey Oates 5/10

Involved himself with his trademark early set hitups – not a single Maroons forward made more ground than Oates. But was otherwise starved of opportunity to make a mark.

  1. Michael Morgan 5.5/10

Chasing points, Morgan involved himself more but couldn’t help find a way through the Blues defence. A brainfade to concede a needless escort penalty early in the second half didn’t help proceedings.

  1. Will Chambers 5/10

Earned his side a penalty try but otherwise didn’t have a great performance – he was targeted in defence, racking up four missed tackles which isn’t up to his normally high defensive standards.

  1. Dane Gagai 4/10

A quiet night for the try scoring machine. Like Oates, he didn’t receive many opportunities in attack and his main involvements were trying to flip field position early in sets. Defensively was nowhere near his best.

  1. Cameron Munster 6/10

Munster tried his heart out and then some, but he was severely outpointed by counterpart James Maloney. He tried forcing the issue with his running game in the second half to no major effect.

  1. Daly Cherry-Evans 5.5/10

A solid defensive effort was his best attribute – unideal for the side’s primary playmaker. A mixed kicking game and rushed passes summed up Queensland’s attack.

  1. Dylan Napa 2.5/10

A 10/10 for guts but carrying a broken wrist into the game severely restricted his involvement to just 23 minutes and only four carries.

  1. Ben Hunt 6.5/10

One of his side’s better performers – a wily kick set up his side’s only try via Will Chambers’ obstruction. A late 40/20 showed he didn’t stop trying. Eight missed tackles from 51 attempts including a costly one on James Tedesco resulting in a try is a concern and no doubt there’ll be rumours about a potential Cameron Smith return for game three.

  1. Josh Papalii 5.5/10

A big effort in defence but only 61 metres from 10 carries is well below the big man’s standards.

  1. Felise Kaufusi 6/10

Toiled on an edge and occasionally through the middle. Tried sparking his side to life in defence with aggression but didn’t quite nail it. Made more metres (98m) than any other Maroon forward.

  1. Matt Gillett 7/10

 The ultimate Maroon workhorse. 50 tackles with only two misses was a huge effort. He lacked opportunities with ball in hand but will be a bedrock for their game three charge.

  1. Josh McGuire 6.5/10

 Ran hard time and time again but couldn’t produce more than a single offload to change up Queensland’s attack. Always reliable in defence.

  1. Moses Mbye 1.5/10

Two games into his Origin career, Mbye has received around 22 minutes of gametime for no impact. Hard to see him retaining his spot.

  1. Jarrod Wallace 4/10

Received big minutes off the bench but his biggest impact was a dangerous shot on Maloney after a kick.

  1. Tim Glasby 5/10

An elbow injury hampered the Knights prop’s night – but always wholehearted in his efforts.

  1. David Fifita 5.5/10

Continued his young Origin career with a decent stint for a well-beaten side. A handful to tackle.


  1. James Tedesco 9/10

A brilliant display from the fullback. Two perfect try assists for Tom Trbojevic were a joy to watch. Ran overall for 186 metres and had the Maroons grasping at air when trying to bring him down.

  1. Blake Ferguson 7/10

Brought in as a like-for-like swap for injured Nick Cotric, the big winger had some handling errors but delivered in strong hitups and kick returns when needed to give the Blues a constant boost.

  1. Tom Trbojevic 10/10

If you can’t get a perfect score for a hat-trick performance in your first game for your state in the centre position to go with a solid defensive effort and 119 running metres, then how else can you?

  1. Jack Wighton 7.5/10

Justified Fittler’s call to have him as a centre with a great performance. Ran for over 150 metres and his ball-playing experience as a five-eighth came in especially handy.

  1. Josh Addo-Carr 8/10

A relatively quiet first half changed dramatically with an explosive second half highlighted with two tries and some dynamic runs.

  1. James Maloney 8.5/10

Made some errors including costly forward passes…but Maloney’s attitude and personality paid massive dividends. NSW looked lost in attack game one – this time even losing their halfback didn’t impact them with Maloney running the show.

  1. Nathan Cleary 5/10

An ankle injury ended his night at halftime – he looked far more confident with Maloney in the halves however and created turnovers in defence.

  1. Daniel Saifiti 6/10

Had an impressive start to his Origin career, right from putting his hand up for the game’s opening hitup. Set up the first try off the back of a powerful run and quick play the ball.

  1. Damien Cook 7.5/10

Unlike game one, Cook this time didn’t need to overplay his hand in attack to liven things up. This allowed him to play a fine game without having to shoulder his side’s attack.

  1. Jake Trbojevic 8.5/10

 Must be a tough feeling to have a whale of a game as a prop, running for 137 metres and not missing a single tackle in over 70 minutes and yet still being upstaged by your younger brother. We’re sure he won’t mind though – what a special player he is.

Boyd Cordner 7/10

A great captain’s knock, overcoming an early HIA to return and being his trademark edge-running specialist. Relished his leadership responsibilities.

  1. Tyson Frizell 7.5/10

Scored a try but his was a defensive-first performance to high effect, making 41 tackles and showing great aggression throughout.

  1. Dale Finucane 7/10

A long-overdue Origin debut and the lock didn’t disappoint. He was reliable in defence and even found a trademark offload in his first stint.

  1. Paul Vaughan 7/10

 Great off the bench – he made significant gains with the ball and ensured NSW maintained its momentum even when making forward rotations.

  1. Tariq Sims 6/10

Didn’t get big minutes but he still made them count with a flurry of hard runs and big hits. NSW are better with his mongrel off the bench.

  1. Cameron Murray 6/10

 Entered the game in the second half and did his work without fuss, quietly racking up 66 metres and 13 tackles without a miss.

  1. Wade Graham 7.5/10

Brushed aside concerns of being underdone with an invaluable cameo off the bench. Nathan Cleary’s injury saw him shift to the five-eighth role he once made his name in and he did it superbly well. He even created a try with a lovely grubber to Addo-Carr out wide and for the Blues’ attack to continue ticking over as it did without its starting halfback was a huge credit to Graham’s veteran presence.




It’d only be a slight exaggeration to say punters could see the shine coming off Blues’ coach Brad Fittler’s grin from New South Wales. Fittler copped an absolute barrage of criticism following his seven changes but in delivering one of New South Wales’s heaviest wins, Freddy has been rewarded for his conviction. James Maloney and Wade Graham provided telling experience and their confidence radiated throughout the side.

Jack Wighton played a solid game on the left edge while the returning Tom Trbojevic was brilliant on the right. Even Fittler’s late reshuffle to start Dale Finucane at lock and Jake Trbojevic at prop was inspired. The biggest triumph for Freddy was his side never stopped – they continued to belt Queensland into submission even with the result assured. New South Wales now enter the decider with all the momentum – and crowd  support – firmly on their side.


Queensland are known for “pick and stick” but there will be serious questions raised given how comprehensively they were defeated. After four halves of this series, New South Wales have won three. It’s also true the biggest turning point for Queensland came in game one from a rushed intercept ball from a NSW interchange player.

The first reshuffle may be Michael Morgan. Two quiet performances as a makeshift centre aren’t doing the Cowboys halfback any favours. With Moses Mbye treated as a luxury utility option off the bench, could Queensland be better suited with Morgan shifting to the number 14 role? With a hole at centre, if Queensland are looking for size than Edrick Lee looms as an option.

Christian Welch will also be a major chance of replacing Tim Glasby off the bench, with the Maroons lacking serious yardage through the middle off their rotations.


It doesn’t matter what number he has on his back – Tom Trbojevic is a gamebreaking superstar and added a whole new dimension to NSW’s attack. Named at centre, Turbo Tom showed his natural traits as a fullback when he raced infield chasing a bomb and soared past Kalyn Ponga to take first points.

He then backed this up with tremendous support play from the Blues’ actual fullback James Tedesco’s spellbinding run to double his try tally. He then repeated the feat for the first New South Wales hat-trick since Matt King in 2005.

Turbo Tom debuted for New South Wales last series on the wing but it appears having Tedesco at fullback makes no impact on how he can still impact a match for New South Wales – he’s got the potential to go down as one of the best Blues backs of his era.


Nathan Cleary only lasted the first half with injury but it was clear he is a different man when he has James Maloney alongside him. Cleary greatly struggled in game one, with both Cody Walker and Jack Wighton not meshing well with the young halfback. Mitchell Pearce was mooted for game two but in opting for James Maloney, NSW coach Brad Fittler made the right call.

Maloney knows Cleary inside-out from club level but it’s his boisterous personality which is the biggest attribute allowing Cleary to shine. Maloney is a dominant leader yet has the experience to not overplay his hand. It allows Cleary to focus on his best skill – kicking – and not need to worry about being his side’s sole playmaking general.

There’s an eleven year age gap between the pair so it’s not a long-term solution but as long as New South Wales have access to Maloney, you’d think he’s the man for the five-eighth gig alongside Cleary – and potentially looms as Cleary’s halfback replacement should an ankle injury sideline him for the decider.


The biggest wildcard for Queensland could well be a retired 35 year old hooker playing in Melbourne. If you’re Kevin Walters, do you ask NRL’s greatest game manager to do an Alfie Langer and come out of retirement to salvage a series win?

Ben Hunt has done his best at nine but there is no question whatsoever Smith returning would be a monumental statement. Smith and Walters have both previously ruled this scenario out – but then again, both would not have seen an absolute belting like game two coming. And if you never ask…you never get.

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