Lockyer's Injury A Worry For

Queensland game-breaker Darren Lockyer will carry an ankle injury into Wednesday night's must-win second rugby league State of Origin in Sydney.

There's no suggestion the Test fullback will miss the Telstra Stadium clash with New South Wales but his performance may be hampered and there's a question over whether he'll retain the goalkicking.

Lockyer had his left ankle heavily strapped and taped at training and did not practice goal kicking.

Instead rookie hooker Michael Crocker was practising his goalkicking, and did so very effectively with hardly a miss despite an unusual technique.

It's believed Lockyer's injury is high in the ankle, making it harder to stabilise.

However his teammates expected their chief strike weapon to be on the field on Wednesday night.

Queensland has worked hard on areas of its game that let it down in the 25-12 first game lost at Suncorp Stadium and is banking on a few positional changes to give some extra options. Tonie Carroll's move back to the centres has allowed ball-playing lock Travis Norton to be added to the pack while starting Steve Price, after 11 Origin games off the bench, bulks up the pack with prop Petero Civoniceva dropping back to the second row.

It gives the Maroons three 100kg-plus front-rowers to provide go forward, freeing up skipper Gorden Tallis to play a more attacking role and also some size off the bench with 107kg forward Dane Carlaw.

Civoniceva has played six Origins, four of them in the second-row with Queensland losing only once when they've used him in that role.

Queesland's pack has more bulk for game two with Crocker more of a running forward than livewire hooker PJ Marsh.

The selectors have also tried to counter the Craig Wing factor by picking North Queensland dynamo Matt Bowen who is lightning around the rucks, similar to the Blues' super sub.

Tallis ignored a question from a journalist about his reaction to reports university students who angered him last year with a banner about his mother would be at the Sydney game again.

He predicted another "crackerjack" contest with both teams capable of improving.

But he wasn't expecting a points spree for the 80,000 fans because of the influence the 2002 NRL premier Sydney Roosters' style of play had on the game this season.

"I think the Roosters last year changed the way rugby league is played with their (gang) defence and the speed they were getting off the line," said Tallis.

"Every club in the off-season worked on that and obviously the elite players all come from the top clubs who are the best at it.

"Defence has certainly picked up and that's what makes Origin close and bruising encounters and I doubt this one of going to be any different."

Winger Shannon Hegarty, an absentee from Saturday's gym session, trained strongly as Queensland rehearsed attacking plays and defensive patterns.