The New South Wales (NSW) Blues are facing an uphill battle as they head to a ground where they seldom taste victory, with a hostile crowd of 50,000 Queenslanders awaiting them. The Blues are also missing key players in their first-choice halfback, hooker, and the influential Latrell Mitchell. Moreover, their coach, Brad Fittler, is under immense pressure to turn things around after a disappointing collapse in the opening match.
However, despite the odds stacked against them, the Blues can take solace in a positive statistic that has been circulating within the NSW headquarters. Under Fittler’s guidance, the team has not lost a game two in the last five State of Origin series. This resilience in the face of adversity is something that they will hold onto tightly in the lead-up to the crucial second game.
NSW lock Isaah Yeo acknowledges the team’s ability to thrive when their backs are against the wall. He states, “We seem to handle backs-against-the-wall pretty well – and that’s going off the back of that.” If history is any indication, Fittler seems to have established a pattern of success in game two. Every time NSW has won the first game of the series under his coaching tenure, they have gone on to secure a series victory in game two. Conversely, when they have lost the first match, they have managed to level the series in game two.
Nevertheless, if NSW manages to secure a victory in Brisbane against all odds, it would undoubtedly be the pinnacle of Fittler’s game two triumphs. Queensland will step onto the field as favorites in an Origin match for the first time since 2016, making a victory for NSW an even more remarkable feat.
In the lead-up to this crucial encounter, the Blues have adopted a siege mentality, a trademark approach usually associated with the Maroons. The media’s questions have been met with shorter answers, training sessions have become more guarded, and tension hangs in the air. This change in demeanor reflects the team’s current state and the pressure they face.
Center Tom Trbojevic emphasizes the need for the team to embrace the siege mentality and come together in tight unity. He acknowledges the criticism the team has faced following their performance in game one but believes they are capable of delivering a strong showing. Trbojevic states, “We’re obviously copping a lot of heat at the moment because of our performance in game one, which is fair. But we need to bring it in tight. We know what we can do when we play good footy.”
Fittler’s coaching abilities have come under scrutiny, but his staunchest supporters argue that his teams have never been out of the fight. Prior to last year’s series decider, his NSW sides had never suffered a defeat by more than a converted try. However, the closeness of the matches is no solace if they continue to lose the crucial encounters that determine a series outcome.
Trbojevic recognizes Fittler’s contribution and hopes the team can deliver a performance that rewards their coach against all odds. He remarks, “It would be massive [to win in Brisbane] and he deserves it. We need to put a performance in for him. He’s great to play under at this level, and I’m sure it would mean everything to do it. That’s what we’re preparing to do. We’ll go up there and give it everything.”
With injured player Nathan Cleary unavailable, Fittler has appointed his Penrith Panthers teammate Isaah Yeo as the vice-captain for the crucial second game. Yeo is known for his composure in volatile situations and understands the historical significance of this match. He states, “That’s why you play this game, for these big moments. I guess now it’s up to us to perform.”
In summary, the NSW Blues find themselves facing numerous challenges as they prepare for the second game of the State of Origin series. Despite missing key players and playing at a ground with an intimidating atmosphere, they can draw strength from their previous success in game two under Brad Fittler‘s coaching. However, a victory in this match would be a remarkable feat and a testament to their resilience. The team has adopted a siege mentality and hopes to reward their coach with a strong performance. With Isaah Yeo stepping up as vice-captain, the Blues are focused on delivering when it matters most.