In came four debutants: Jarrod Wallace, Coen Hess, Valentine Holmes and Tim Glasby, while experienced pair Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston were also called back.
"I remember way back when it first started with Mal, winning one game was a big challenge, winning a series was a great achievement". The Cowboys playmaker was clearly hampered by the injury but bravely played on despite being targeted by the Blues.
Today, the second game of the series was played in Sydney with NSW knowing that a win would clinch the series - a much-needed boost for the state considering the absolute dominance Queensland have shown in recent years. There's your game plan.
"But once I knew I could play rugby league again, I just wanted to get back and enjoy the game and I've been able to do that. I couldn't believe what I was watching".
Asked if he was tempering expectations of further Origin dynasties, he replied: "I think Queenslanders love their Origin".
"The way he was holding that shoulder, there's no way he can continue, which speaks volumes for Thurston and the way he played on". With scores now locked at 16-16 the game fell to the champion Maroons five-eighth, Johnathan Thurston. You can't do it to a side like Queensland.
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"Last night, I would have said it to them as they were leaving the field", he said.
The ageing Maroons looked shot to bits when the Blues raced out to a 16 6 lead with two quick tries midway through the first half, but the Blues were held scoreless in the second half. The ageing Queensland side somehow remain on track for their 11th Origin triumph in 12 years.
The Queenslanders, with the experience of captain Cameron Smith (a record 41 matches) were unrattled.
"That's the key for us, that's the key for Origin because you don't get many". Anyone can have a bad night, after all, as they had in Brisbane three weeks ago.
Thurston will bow out of Origin after game three while the Maroons future of the likes of Slater and halfback Cooper Cronk remains up in the air.
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With just hours until kick off, fans keen for a bite of the real action are in luck with tickets to Game II at ANZ Stadium still available. When you see guys out there still willing to put bodies in front of blue jumpers when they shouldn't be on the field, it makes you want to do the same thing.
Walters' comments are sure to infuriate Daley with NSW preparing for Queensland to adopt NRL club Melbourne's proficiency at wrestling in the tackle.
"We are now in discussions with the venue about maximizing capacity", an NRL spokesperson said.
"And I was always going to be the easy target because I was a pretty unexpected selection for everyone".
In an extraordinary post-match tirade Johns labeled the Blues' second-half performance as one of the dumbest halves of football in Origin history.
Centre Jarryd Hayne scored in the 14th minute, marking four-pointer No.11 for NSW - equalling Michael O'Connor as NSW's leading Origin try-scorer.
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