I've known Brad Fittler for a long time and he's never been shy about thinking outside the box.

Freddy shocked a lot of people when he unveiled a new-look NSW team for Origin II featuring seven changes (three of them injury-forced) from the team that narrowly lost game one up Suncorp.

I've heard a lot of people say they are panic changes, or that Freddy has lost the plot or even that he has no idea what he's doing.

I say we should wait and see what Freddy's plan is for this new team before we judge him.

I want to stress from the outset that I think this is a good team – one that can take the series to a decider. They are all good players. I'm on board and I hope all the NSW fans are the same.

Everyone likes to have a crack at NSW and especially kick them when they're down. Opinions are everywhere.

You must remember the attention to detail that the NSW selectors and coaches put in. The time they put into watching all of these players looking for specific things is at a level that maybe note even their club coaches operate at.

Look at the NSW brains trust. Freddy has Greg Alexander, Danny Buderus and Andrew Johns alongside him. Those are some fantastic footy brains who have won a lot of Origin matches.

I'm sure there is a plan.

Last year he made a lot of changes for game one, picked players who were in form with a plan for how he wanted to play and it worked.

This year it didn't quite work out in game one and even though it was close there were obviously things the NSW coaches saw that either they weren't happy with  or things they could take advantage of in the way Queensland played.

A lot of the time Freddy's thinking doesn't seem logical but he's always got the job done. Even when I played with him at the Roosters and in Origin he'd cut through the noise, look at things from a different perspective and you'd just follow him and it would all work out.

Certainly, with the team changes, there are a couple that look like head-scratchers at first but Freddy is looking at things from a different angle to the rest of us and he has his reasons.

My only real concern with the number of changes is their ability to gel in a short camp with only two or three training sessions.

Some of the defensive errors which gifted Queensland easy metres and momentum shifts could easily have been rectified with the same players.

With so many new players they can't really tweak and build upon what they did last time so it comes down to their ability to come together in a short time.

The halves

I originally felt after game one they should give the halves another chance. I feel bad for Cody Walker, who was very good in his second stint and created some chances after not really getting a chance to show what he could do in his first spell.

But mulling over it over the last few days, I see the halves pairing of Cleary and Maloney making sense. There will be a sense of stability and understanding there given they partnered each other in last year's series as well as at club level, where they have now won four games in a row.

In hindsight, maybe the game one combination lacked a senior game-managing half. Maybe in game one Adam Reynolds could have helped get the best out of Walker or Maloney could have gelled better with Cleary. But Cleary and Maloney are back together now and with a whole Origin team around them, I'm sure they can get the job done.

The centres

The changes in the centres have probably been the most controversial. I was surprised Josh Morris got dropped because I thought he was one of our better players in Brisbane while Latrell Mitchell is obviously a superstar.

Tom Trbojevic simply had to come in; he is just a brilliant player in incredible form who was one of our best last year. They could have put him on the wing for the injured Nick Cotric but they've opted to bring Blake Ferguson back while also putting Jack Wighton at starting centre.

When you look at those three guys, all three are very big bodies who make a lot of metres week-to-week while Morris and Mitchell aren't really yardage men. Morris is a great defender who was also good in attack in game one while Mitchell tends to pick his times and drift in and out of games and doesn't take many carries, even at club level.

Freddy would have been disappointed with his lack of involvement when the Blues needed to get out of their end but then again, would Queensland have dropped a 22-year-old Greg Inglis after one bad Origin?

Whatever the reasoning, the back five is now packed with big, powerful runners who will get them out of their own end strongly which was identified as an issue in game one. Ferguson is great under the high ball and has shown real leadership at Parramatta this year. I would have had him in for game one.

The props

Daniel Saifiti is another left field selection. Certainly, his stats don't stack up next to some of the other candidates and I haven't seen too much from him this year that made me think he was about to play Origin.

Maybe it was the way he stood up to the Burgess brothers when Newcastle beat Souths the other week, or the way he pressured Luke Keary when they beat the Roosters the week before.

Not having any specialist props on the bench is another interesting one but Dale Finucane and Cam Murray are both middles who can play big minutes while Boyd Cordner and Tyson Frizell are both capable of shifting in tighter as well.

The bench

I'm excited to see what Wade Graham can add from the bench. It's a bit of a worry that he's only had two games back from a knee reconstruction but he is the total package on that left edge.

I can see Boyd Cordner playing a similar role to what he usually does but moving closer to the middle to get Graham into the action where he could really create problems alongside Maloney and James Tedesco getting early ball to Josh Addo-Carr out wide.

Wighton has played a lot of centre but has been at five-eighth this year and knows how to organise and create plays too. There are a lot of points on that left edge if they can get some attacking chances.

There is no specialist utility but Graham came through the grades playing five-eighth and I'm sure he could handle centre. If a winger or fullback gets hurt he would replace Trbojevic who could then drop back.

Finucane has plenty of big-game experience with six grand finals under his belt and looks like he's made for Origin. I know Tariq Sims had a bit of a slow start to the year but I love his aggression and he's one player I would definitely have brought in for this game. He's another who can do a job in the middle if required.

Match: Maroons v Blues

Game 2 -

Full Time
Maroons

Home Team

Maroons

Scored 6 points
Blues

Away Team

Blues

Scored 38 points

Venue: Optus Stadium

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network

The game plan

There's a whole other plan with Freddy. Something the players might not even know about yet.

There's no way those guys have made panic changes – they have something up their sleeve, a focus, something they've seen that's just too good not to take advantage of from the last game.

I'm sure they're looking at the NSW errors from game one but they've also seen opportunities with how Queensland played last time and these changes are specific to that.

In game one Queensland were at home and they were all up for it. Every player probably played their best game.

I can't see them playing better than they played but I reckon the NSW coaching staff would have looked at that and thought that's the best they've got and these are the guys to counter that.