The State of Origin series is once again the focus of the rugby league world, with Game 2 to take place at Brisbane’s Lang Park on Sunday night.
NSW hold a 1-0 series lead after winning Game 1 in convincing fashion but they will face a new-look Queensland outfit at “The Cauldron”, a venue — according to Blues halfback Nathan Cleary — where the Maroons “grow another leg playing there”.
Who’s in and who’s out of the Maroons and Blues squads?
And why is the game being played on a Sunday night?
Here’s our lowdown ahead of Game 2 in Brisbane.
Why’s Origin Game 2 on Sunday and not Wednesday?
Scheduling a State of Origin game on a Sunday isn’t a break from tradition.
Game 2 in the 2018 series was played on a Sunday at Sydney’s Olympic stadium.
Perth hosted Game 2 in 2019 on a Sunday as well.
The ARLC and the Nine Network — official broadcaster of State of Origin — agreed to schedule a game on a Sunday in 2018 in the hope of attracting a TV audience outside rugby league’s traditional supporter base.
While scheduling State of Origin on Wednesday nights has become the norm, previous games have been played on Mondays, Tuesday and Fridays, while the entire 2001 series was played on Sundays.
The coronavirus pandemic meant the 2020 series was played on consecutive Wednesday nights after the conclusion of the NRL season.
When is kick-off?
Game 1 is scheduled to begin at 7:50pm AEST, however Origin clashes have rarely started on time.
Nine doesn’t mind drawing out the drama of the pre-game hype, which some viewers love but others detest.
The start of Game 2 in 2013, however, was delayed for reasons outside of Nine’s control.
The network took live coverage of the federal Labor Party’s leadership spill on the evening of June 26 when Kevin Rudd successfully challenged Julia Gillard for the prime ministership, not long before the two teams were meant to run out onto Lang Park.
What happened in Game 1?
The Blues earned bragging rights with a 50-6 thrashing of the Maroons in the series opener in front of a sold-out crowd in Townsville earlier this month.
Brad Fittler’s troops scored eight tries to one, with Blues centre Tom Trbojevic crossing for a hat-trick, while Latrell Mitchell and Brian To’o dotted down for doubles.
Kurt Capewell scored the Maroons’ lone try.
It was the Blues’ biggest State of Origin victory, eclipsing the 56-16 result from Game 3 in 2000.
What are the teams?
As a result of the Maroons’ poor showing in Townsville, in addition to several injuries to key players, coach Paul Green has named a revamped squad for Game 2.
The biggest talking point among the Maroons’ line-up was the selection of 18-year-old Reece Walsh at fullback.
Walsh only made his NRL debut earlier this season and has a mere seven matches under his belt for the Warriors, but he is regarded as a star of the future.
Cowboys front rower Francis Molo will debut from the interchange bench, while Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii, and Dragons duo Andrew McCullough and Ben Hunt (he was a reserve in Game 1) have earned recalls to the Maroons’ game-day squad.
Papalii will start in the front row after missing Game 1 because of suspension. McCullough replaces the injured Harry Grant in the crucial role of hooker.
Meanwhile, the Blues had no reason to wield the axe but they were forced to make one change to their starting line-up, with prop Junior Paulo replacing the injured Jake Trbojevic.
Angus Crichton, who was unavailable for Game 1, has been included on the interchange bench.
How do I watch or listen to Origin Game 2?
Nine will telecast Game 2 live nationally, with its coverage beginning at 7:00pm AEST.
The network will also make the game available on its streaming platform, 9now.
If you are overseas, you can stream it via the NRL’s website, although this requires a paid subscription.
ABC Sport will provide live radio coverage of the game throughout Australia.
Fans can also listen to Game 2 through the ABC Sport Button on the ABC Listen App.
For those wanting to listen overseas, Radio Australia, BBC 5 Live Sports Extra and New Zealand’s Gold AM will broadcast ABC Sport’s call of the game.
If live blogs are more your thing, make sure to follow our digital coverage at abc.net.au/news/sport on Sunday night.