Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Queensland coach Michael Hagan wants halfback Scott Prince to use his Origin magic again despite the return of proven matchwinner Darren Lockyer against NSW tonight.
Queensland fans expect Lockyer - who missed the 9-8 loss in Origin I in Sydney - to be the saviour at Suncorp Stadium.
With the series on the line, the Maroons playmaker admits his battle with Brad Fittler shapes as his biggest test since switching positions this year.
While Hagan admits Lockyer needs to be the conductor, he's just as keen for Prince to repeat his first game heroics in which he scored a try and set up Queensland's other touchdown.
"He'll be a bit more supportive (with Lockyer at five-eighth) but having said that I don't want him to go back into his shell either," stressed Hagan.
"He played terrific in his own right in the first game and I'd really like to see him build on that and be a threat again."
Prince was voted the players' player after his Origin debut in Sydney.
Blues assistant coach Laurie Daley was also impressed by his organisational skills in game one.
"If we look at game one, a lot of people would not have expected Scott Prince to be one of their stand out players with the football in hand," said Daley.
"But he turned out to be a real big threat.
"We'll watch Lockyer, but we'll be watching other players as well."
With Lockyer orchestrating Queensland's attack, there are concerns that Prince may take too much of a back seat role but he doesn't intend to.
"Obviously with Locky in the team he is a great attacking player and we've got to use that to our advantage," said Prince.
"But I don't see I'll be changing too much from game one.
"Locky will need the ball a lot but I still have to go out and do my role as a halfback and guide the forwards around and keep on top of my kicking game.
"Having Locky and Cameron Smith there takes a lot of pressure off my kicking game."
Prince said some people may think he slipped under Gould's planning radar in game one and he expects to come in for a lot more attention tonight.
"You can look at it that way I suppose and I may be targeted a lot more," he said.
"But all that does is create room for other players.
"With Locky being such a great player they'll be watching him more than me, at least that's what I'm hoping anyway."
Lockyer, who took the points against Fittler in Brisbane's 26-14 round five NRL win over the Sydney Roosters, said going up against one of the game's all time greats at Origin level would be the ultimate test of his move to five-eighth.
"This is another level up from that and Freddy has another gear he wants to shift into," said Lockyer.
"After the game, if the result has gone our way, I'll be very pleased.
"But if it hasn't, as long as I've gone out there and done everything I could, then I'll be happy with that."
Lockyer is aware of the huge public expectations on him tonight.
"I have a little bit of pressure on me as captain in front of a full Suncorp Stadium crowd and I feel that," he said.
"But it's nothing I haven't been through before."