The count down to State of Origin game two is well and truly on and it is time to take a look at the five players who could have the biggest influence on the game.
Picking out five players is no easy task. Those involved are the cream of the crop not only in Australian rugby league, but the world over and any one player could be a game-changer.
It goes without saying team spirit also counts for a lot, as Queensland showed in game one.
However there are certain players who could be more influential than the rest in Perth on Sunday so it is time to take a look at them.
What: New South Wales v Queensland
Where: Optus Stadium, Perth
When: 19:50 (AEST), Sunday 26th June, 2022
Odds: NSW 13/20, Queensland 13/10
Cameron Munster (Queensland)
The Maroons playmaker stole the show when winning man-of-the-match in game one and will once again be crucial to their chances of going 2-0 up in the series.
Coach Billy Slater makes the point that Queensland are not a one-man team, which is true. However if Munster is on fire there is a good chance that Queensland will be on fire also, and New South Wales will be out to stop him.
That is easier said than done however with NSW legend Andrew Johns suggesting there is no way of stopping him. With that in mind the Blues may just be praying he has an off-night for once.
James Tedesco (New South Wales)
Behind Jack Wighton, who will miss out in game two because of sickness, Tedesco was New South Wales’ best player in game one.
From an attacking point of view the Blues skipper was heavily involved in everything they did as he attempted to drag his side back into the game.
He is sure to be a huge player for NSW in Perth, playing a captain’s role to get the Blues back on level terms.
Tedesco’s fast feet and change of direction often bamboozles the opposition and the Maroons can expect plenty of the same on Sunday. It goes without saying that Tedesco is a hugely infleuntial player and New South Wales need him on top form.
Nathan Cleary (New South Wales)
The Blues halfback copped a fair bit of criticism following the 16-10 defeat against the Maroons in game one and he is believed to have taken the defeat personally.
NSW coach Brad Fittler has defended his vice-captain and believes it was the rest of the Blues side that let Cleary down at Accor Stadium. Nonetheless, Cleary was hurting and everyone can expect a response from him in Perth.
Cleary admitted after the game that he could have played better and he is sure to come out firing at Optus Stadium.
Kalyn Ponga (Queensland)
Ponga was not at full health in game one but still managed to put in an impressive display at full-back.
The Newcastle Knights was also sick in the lead up to last week’s defeat against Canberra in the NRL, but says he is now back to full health and is feeling good heading into game two.
With that in mind expect him to take his game to another level. Slater has saluted the way his leadership skills have developed and they will be crucial come Sunday.
Ponga can help take some of the load of Munster and has a huge role to play in the game.
Jake Trbojevic (New South Wales)
The return of the Manly Sea Eagles star could prove to be a game-changer for the Blues. It came as a surprise to many when Trbojevic was left out in game one and it looks as though coach Brad Fittler has learned from his mistake.
Queensland dominated through the middle with the likes of Pat Carrigan and Reuben Cotter bossing the show. That also allowed their halves pairing of Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans to control things.
The Blues will be looking for Trbojevic to make a big difference in the forwards. He has been there and done it in Origin in the past and will fired up like never before.
Another experienced forward Angus Crichton is also back in the mix and it looks sure to be one of the most important match-ups of the game as the two packs go head-to-head.