NSW are bracing for an attacking onslaught following Queensland’s recall of 130kg forward Dave Taylor for State of Origin game two in Sydney.
With Corey Parker out and Dave Taylor in, the NSW State of Origin camp believe Queensland have merely turned defence into attack.
While the Maroons ranks resemble a casualty ward with a host of stars battling injuries and Parker ruled out on Wednesday with a facial fracture, the Blues believe the eight-times reigning Origin champions have lost nothing with Taylor’s inclusion for game two.
Parker made 37 tackles in 69 minutes in the series opener in Brisbane, but Taylor adds an extra dimension for the return bout in Sydney on Wednesday.
Taylor has been recalled for his first Origin game in two years, but the Blues are wary of his insist the return of the 130kg “Coal Train” has them on high alert.
“He’s a very damaging player, a big boy and very strong,” Blues halfback Trent Hodkinson said.
Rival back-rower Ryan Hoffman said Parker’s absence would be felt, but so too would Taylor’s inclusion.
“(Parker) is a very hard worker for them,” Hoffman said.
“He obviously takes a lot of hit-ups, makes a lot of tackles and has got a pretty strong offload too.
“But they’ve got some pretty good depth in their forwards. A bloke like Dave Taylor, he’s achieved things at Origin before, and has played Origin and played Origin well.
“They’ve just got a production line of players so they know whoever they put in that maroon jersey is going to do the job for them.”
Halfback Daly Cherry-Evans is battling the clock to be fit to step in for Cooper Cronk, who broke his arm in game one, but Hoffman has no doubt fullback Billy Slater (shoulder) and centre Greg Inglis (ankle) will take the field at ANZ Stadium as the Maroons strive to keep the series alive.
“They’ll be right. No doubt in my mind,” said Hoffman, a long-time teammate of Slater’s and Inglis’s at the Melbourne Storm.
“I’ve known those blokes for a long time and I know how hard they work in their recovery.
“So I have all the confidence in the world that they’ll be playing.”