Billy Slater move under fire amid Gorden Tallis admission about State of Origin 2 hiding

The Queensland great has pinpointed where it all went wrong at the MCG.

Maroons legend Gorden Tallis has made the worrying admission that Queensland's players were "not prepared" for the Blues' first half onslaught in State of Origin Game 2. Billy Slater is under pressure to make changes for the July 17 decider at Suncorp Stadium but the Maroons coach has remained coy on the subject and Tallis does not believe a different lineup would have changed the outcome on Wednesday night at the MCG.

Michael Maguire's Blues had to win to keep the series alive and they came flying out of the blocks in Melbourne, putting on an Origin record 34 unanswered points in an almost perfect first 40 minutes of footy. Recalled stars Mitchell Moses and Latrell Mitchell were among the Blues' standouts as NSW showed much more aggression and intent than their Maroons rivals.

Pictured right is Gorden Tallis and Maroons Origin coach Billy Slater on left.
Gorden Tallis has identified where it went wrong for Billy Slater's Maroons side in State of Origin Game 2. Pic: Getty

The NSW forward pack, led by impressive performances from the likes of Payne Haas and Angus Crichton, plus Spencer Leniu off the bench, dominated their Queensland counterparts who were on the back foot for most of the game. The Maroons couldn't shift the momentum and none of their interchange players were able to come on and stop the NSW juggernaut from rolling on.

Many critics thought someone like Titans wrecking ball David Fifita would have been the ideal player to help turn the tide in that scenario but Slater left him out of Games 1 and 2. Calls are only growing louder for his inclusion in Game 3. The same can be said about Broncos centre Selwyn Cobbo, who was one of the Maroons' best off the bench in Game 1, following the match-ending hit on Reece Walsh.

Slater decided to go with Kurt Capewell on his bench instead of Cobbo in Melbourne and the veteran Warriors forward - like the other Maroons interchange players - failed to spark life into the Queensland side. Slater gave a frosty response to reporters when quizzed after the match about potential changes for Game 3, telling reporters "we're still Queenslanders" and insisting he hadn't thought about it yet.

Veteran league reporter Phil Rothfield was among those to call out Slater though, declaring the Maroons coach got his team selection wrong in what he described as a costly "blunder" for Game 2. “Billy needs to be called out about that team he’s picked as far as I’m concerned,” Rothfield said on NRL 360.

“Capewell was never going to offer you anything once you were behind on the scoreboard. You needed a bench forward who could blow any football side on the planet apart. David Fifita should have been in that side. The comments led to a fiery response from Maroons great Tallis, who threw his support behind a coach whose Origin coaching career had gone swimmingly up until Wednesday night.

Seen here, David Fifita playing in the NRL.
Critics believe David Fifita could have made a difference for Billy Slater's Maroons side in Origin Game 2. Pic: Getty

“So you want us to sack Billy?” Tallis asked. “Is that what you want?” Rothfield said that was definitely not what he was suggesting but said the nature of Queensland's defeat could not be overlooked. “I’m calling him out for making a blunder, Gordie. He blundered.”

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Tallis backed Slater and the sense that major changes were unnecessary for the Maroons ahead of Game 3. And he argued that different faces on Maroons bench would not have changed the outcome in Melbourne. “No one would offer anybody anything. No one offered anybody anything once we got behind,” he said.

But in a worrying admission, the Queensland legend said he didn't believe Slater's men were prepared for what NSW thew at them at the MCG, despite it being a must-win game for the Blues if they hoped to keep the series alive. “I’ll tell you what, they did not prepare for NSW to come out of the blocks like that and defend their try line. and they got outmuscled,” Tallis added. “They did not prepare properly. You don't get ambushed in Origin, they just weren’t ready for what NSW threw at them.”