The heat is on halves pairing Ben Hunt and Cameron Munster.Much may have been made of Queensland’s lack of forward firepower in their State of Origin series opening loss.
But Maroons coach Kevin Walters says the area where his side need to improve in Sunday’s must-win game two in Sydney is clear – their halves.
There was speculation Walters may promote old head Josh McGuire from lock to starting prop and hand livewire bench forward Jai Arrow the No.13 jersey for Origin II after the Maroons big men failed to fire in the opener.
Prop Jarrod Wallace even had to rely on a “second chance” to be retained for game two after an underwhelming 43m from just five carries in their opening 22-12 loss in Melbourne.
But instead of turning up the heat on his forwards, Walters took aim at halves Ben Hunt and Cameron Munster ahead of a game they must win to keep the series alive.
Hunt and Munster were already feeling the heat after failing to spark Queensland’s attack in their opening loss at the MCG – their first game together as Maroons halves.
“They need to be better,” Walters said of his halves.
“Ben Hunt in game one was good likewise Cam Munster but they need to be great (on Sunday night) if we want to win and that has been explained to them.”
Melbourne playmaker Munster threatened early in game one while St George Illawarra No.7 Hunt set up winger Dane Gagai’s second half try with a well-timed grubber but largely failed to test NSW’s defence.
Even Queensland skipper Greg Inglis couldn’t help but have a chip at their maligned halves ahead of game two.
Asked if he felt it was up to him to lift Queensland in their crunch clash, the inspirational centre said: “I have to put the ownership back on our halves”.
But Walters believed Munster and Hunt – who battled a thigh injury before game one – were ready to show what they have got at Origin level.
“I couldn’t think of two better guys in the Maroon jersey than those guys,” Walters said of his halves.
“They are great players. They will show (on Sunday night) just how good they are.”
Queensland have won three of the past four Origins in Sydney, including an 18-16 result in last season’s pivotal game two at ANZ Stadium.
Australian Associated Press