Coach Kevin Walters has rated Queensland’s come-from-behind State of Origin I win a “five or maybe six out of 10”, warning New South Wales that the Maroons will be better when they clash on Sunday.
A fired-up Walters again claimed he expected to win, with just two injury-enforced changes to his Maroons side that won 18-14 – compared to seven for the Blues.
Forwards Jarrod Wallace and Tim Glasby have been recalled and added to the bench, replacing Joe Ofahengaue (knee) and Jai Arrow (ankle).
Hard-marking Walters said he wanted to wrap up the series in Perth but demanded better, despite the Maroons pulling off a stirring Origin victory at Suncorp Stadium.
“After reviewing the game I would probably give it a five or six out of 10 if I am being kind,” he said.
And the players are aware of this. They know there will be some improvements – we expect to improve. (But) we expect to win game two.”
Asked why he was so harsh with their Origin I rating, Walters said: “Firstly, we look at our attack. It was the first game our spine has played together.”
However, he expected halfback and skipper Daly Cherry-Evans, hooker Ben Hunt and fullback Kalyn Ponga to click in game two.
“DCE (Cherry-Evans) had five weeks out (with an ankle injury) before he played his first Origin game – he can better,” Walters said.
“For Kalyn Ponga it was his first game in the Origin arena (starting at fullback) – he will learn a lot from that experience.
“And Ben Hunt – that was his first game at hooker in the toughest game in the world.”
Walters retained faith in his forward depth after Ofahengaue suffered a knee gash and Arrow was sidelined for six to 12 weeks with an ankle injury.
“We have got a lot of belief in our players and certainly in our team,” he said. “We have had to make some changes through injury.
“But Jarrod Wallace has been one of the best players in the NRL over the last four or five weeks.
“And Tim Glasby has been in a Newcastle side that has been on a five-match winning streak up until the weekend and he has been a major part of that.”