NSW hooker Damien Cook says Nathan Brown is the ideal replacement for injured forward Cameron Murray as the Blues prepare for a must-win match in Sydney.
The Blues have limited time to prepare for the ANZ Stadium showdown after losing the series opener to Queensland in Adelaide on Wednesday night.
Murray is expected to be ruled out with a hamstring injury that forced him from the field following just one run at Adelaide Oval.
Brown and Melbourne lock Dale Finucane seem the obvious candidates to replace Murray.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 2 -
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
NSW coach Brad Fittler may also consider handing either St George Illawarra centre Zac Lomax or Penrith’s Stephen Crichton an Origin debut in a backline reshuffle.
Dally M Medal winner Jack Wighton was hobbling after the loss, while he and Clint Gutherson were both caught out defensively while playing in the centres for the first time this year.
Fittler has a 27-man squad to draw on, including Melbourne speedster Ryan Papenhuyzen, and Cook said anyone called up for Origin II would do a good job.
Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons
He had no hesitation in backing Brown when asked about the Parramatta enforcer as a possible replacement for Murray.
"I know that all the boys have been training really well, and Nathan Brown has had a great year and he has got a lot of leg speed through the middle," Cook said.
"I played with Browny a couple of times at Souths before he left and he is an exciting player.
Fittler throws support behind halves and centres
"He has grown as a player and he is a bit of a leader at Parramatta as well. That’s why he is in the squad, but any of those guys in the squad would do a good job."
The Blues lost the opening game last year and bounced back to win the series with victories in Perth and Sydney but it has been 15 years since a NSW team won a decider at Suncorp Stadium.
Fullback James Tedesco said the short turn-around would ensure a sharp focus on what the NSW team needed to do better.
"I think it is good for us because we can sort of flush that, do our lessons and focus on Game II," Tedesco said.
"We obviously might have a few out, with Cam and whatnot, but looking around our squad there is a lot of depth there and whoever comes in will do a good job for us."
Cook, who made 52 tackles and Tedesco, who ran for 300 metres with the ball, were among NSW’s best as they found easy metres through the middle of the ruck in the first half.
Fan-voted greatest Origin teams of all-time announced
Both felt the Blues were in control of the match when they headed to halftime with a 10-0 lead.
However, the Blues were outplayed by Queensland in the second term and did not have an attacking set in the Maroons half until late in the match.
"Their halves just kicked us to the corners and they rolled us through the middle," Tedesco said.
"It is pretty disappointing on how we started and we were feeling pretty comfortable."
Game two tickets start from $45 for members and $49 for general public or get your wig and experience the Blatchy’s effect from $85 for members or $90 for the general public