Cameron Munster reins in Blues rival Nathan Cleary. Picture: AAP
Cameron Munster reins in Blues rival Nathan Cleary. Picture: AAP

Buzz: Axe hovering over MIA Blues halves

BRAD Fittler left Suncorp Stadium with selection headaches that yoga and breathing exercises won't fix.

The Blues need to make changes to square the series at Optus Stadium in Perth on June 23.

The question is where do you start?

The halves will be the big talking point.

Cody Walker had an unhappy debut and Nathan Cleary, after an excellent start, got lost in the second-half when he should have taken control of the game as great halfbacks do.

Clearing kicks at critical stages were left to Jack Wighton and Boyd Cordner, while Cleary was abandoned on the right side.

Great Origin halves take over and demand the fifth tackle kicks in these situations.

Cody Walker struggled to get involved. Picture: Chris Hyde
Cody Walker struggled to get involved. Picture: Chris Hyde

Wighton too was disappointing.

He had a kick charged down and threw the intercept for Dane Gagai's try.

All this was happening while NSW had an Origin series winning halfback in James Maloney watching from home. Also Adam Reyolds and Mitchell Pearce will have to come into contention for Perth.

It can be harsh to make changes after just a four-point loss.

But there are no second chances.

It was a shame because the Blues got off to such a positive start.

Dave Klemmer's opening 20 minutes was simply phenomenal. He made 112m and was also leading the tackle count.

He completely overshadowed the Maroons front-rowers Josh Papalii (47m) and Jai Arrow (15m) in that opening quarter of the game.

It was a bad night all round for Latrell Mitchell. Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
It was a bad night all round for Latrell Mitchell. Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The Blues' tactics were obvious.

They ran the entire first half at Ben Hunt to wear down the Maroons hooker, who was forced to make 30 tackles in the opening 40 minutes. He made 52 in total.

Little wonder his dummy-half service was a little scrappy when the Maroons had plenty of possession deep in NSW territory towards the end of the half. But somehow he kept going.

NSW might have led 8-0 at half-time but the Maroons had two tries disallowed.

There was nothing between the two sides.

It wouldn't be Origin without at least one grubby act from Maroons forward Josh Maguire. In the 43rd minute he was penalised for a crusher tackle on Blues debutant Cameron Murray.

Still, for an Origin game, there was little spite. The usual niggle but certainly no "cattledog" moments.

For 52 minutes the Blues kept Maroons superstar Kalyn Ponga in check.

But then he struck.

It was always going to be one step, one burst or one pass.

He swept around of back of Felise Kaufusi then fired the most stunning bullet-like pass for Corey Oates to score a spectacular try in the corner.

And then his sideline conversion was an absolute screamer.

He is a wonderful player.

NSW haven't won two straight titles for 14 years.

So now it's to Perth for game two.

What happens in the selection room and whether Freddy is prepared to change the team will be the big talking point for days.

News Corp Australia

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