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Many in NSW have perceived it as textbook selection panic after defeat. Daly Cherry-Evans simply thinks the changes within the Blues ranks show a desperation to win as the Maroons prepare to substantially raise their game ahead of State of Origin II in Sydney on Wednesday.
The Blues will run onto the field with a different halves pairing for the fifth game in succession, with Luke Keary dropped and Cody Walker preferred to partner halfback Nathan Cleary. Queensland will go again with skipper Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster, who were both instrumental in the game one victory in Adelaide.
Cody Walker returns to the No. 6 jersey.Credit:Getty
Walker had an excellent season for Souths and has become a dangerous ball-runner on the edges, although Cherry-Evans said he felt Keary asked plenty of defensive questions of his own last week.
"To be fair, I don't know if he does take the line on much more than Luke Keary. Luke Keary felt like he was coming at us all day, to be honest," Cherry-Evans said.
"Cody's going to be a similar attacking player. He's going to bring a lot down that left edge and our right side defensively.
"We have to make sure we’re better again defensively and better prepared for what they throw at us."
Queensland certainly enjoyed the win in Adelaide, with Wayne Bennett even busting out a little dance as part of the celebrations, but the memory of game two last year has never been far away in Camp Maroon and had been spoken about behind closed doors.
The Maroons took game one in 2019 but were smashed 38-6 in game two, before losing a thrilling decider and surrendering the series at ANZ Stadium.
"We haven't looked at the video but it's been spoken about, of course it has … we were in the same position last year. The rest is history, they took the series from there. Some big lessons to be learned from last year, that's for sure.
"We've got to be a lot better, to be fair. They didn't play their best footy. They'll be a lot hungrier, they'll be an improved side. We'll have to take our game to another level. What we did in game one won't be enough to win game two or game three. We're aware of that."
There are some doubts over the fitness of centre Kurt Capewell (groin) but there are less questions about what Queensland are made of following standout performances from a host of rookie players.
"It was a little but uncertain what was going to happen in game one, not necessarily whether anybody was up to the challenge, it was just how we would come together as a side," Cherry-Evans said.
"Last week, you heard us speak about how much belief we had in each other. (But) you just never know until you get out there. We take some confidence out of that first performance but I can't be any clearer: we have to be better to beat NSW."
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