Freddie gives his new Blues big job to do
YOU could hear the collective gasps from Blues fans on Sunday night when they got their first glimpse of the New South Wales side for State of Origin game two in Perth.
Brad "Freddie" Fittler has proven during his short Origin coaching career that he walks to the beat of his own drum and he doesn't mind thinking outside of the box to get the desired result.
I must admit that when I first saw the new Blues side I was a little shocked, but the more I looked at the side the more I liked it.
There are no smarter minds in rugby league than Fittler and his Blues selectors, Greg Alexander, Danny Buderus and Andrew Johns and you can trust they've got a plan in place for this side which will see them win in Perth.
As much as I believe Latrell Mitchell would have improved on his game one performance if selected for Perth, you have to look at the overall picture.
The axing of Mitchell is a big leadership call from Fittler. He's drawn a line in the sand when it comes to effort and it's a line that should act as a great motivator for Blues players on Sunday night.
Although I feel for Cody Walker after he was dropped for game two, the addition of James Maloney is a great one for the Blues.
Maloney has been in tremendous form over the past month. The 33-year-old is reliable, he's energetic and he brings success with him everywhere he goes.
David Klemmer's absence due to injury is a big loss for the Blues.
The big front-rower's opening stint in game one was one of the best from any forward in recent memory.
With Klemmer missing, Fittler has turned to his Newcastle Knights teammate Daniel Saifiti.
There is no tougher place to debut in Origin than in the front row and you can guarantee that the Maroons will be looking to rattle Saifiti's cage early, but if there's one thing we've learnt about the Knights prop this season, it's that he fears no one.
The Blues have added some size in the outside backs with the inclusion of Blake Ferguson, Jack Wighton and Tom Trbojevic, but on the whole they are not a big side.
Looking at the line-up, I don't expect the Blues to go toe-to-toe with Queensland.
I expect to see NSW play an up-tempo game with plenty of speed and footwork around the ruck.
With Damien Cook, James Tedesco and Maloney in the side, the Blues have the ability to rack up plenty of points - and quickly - but to do that they need Saifiti, Paul Vaughan and Tyson Frizell to do the damage in the middle.
The Blues learnt in game one just how dangerous the Maroons can be when given a sniff, but they would have learnt plenty from that loss.
It's how they implement those lessons in game two which will decide the result.
Blues by 10.
Don't miss the most comprehensive Origin review on NRL 360 Monday night at 7.30pm on FOX LEAGUE and streamed on FOXTEL NOW