The NSW Blues players celebrate after scoring the opening try in State of Origin I.
The NSW Blues players celebrate after scoring the opening try in State of Origin I. Getty Images

It's the Blues by 8

FORMER New South Wales rugby league representative Kevin Junee admits he tipped the Maroons to win the first game of the 2012 State of Origin in Melbourne last month.

Despite Queensland winning 18-10, Junee is now convinced the Blues will turn things around tonight and square up the series.

The former Manly and Eastern Suburbs halfback will be watching closely tonight in between cooking hotdogs where he works as manager of the East Lismore Bowling Club.

"A bit of desperation comes into it now and I think they'll win by 8-10 points," Junee said.

"They have one more level to go before they can win and another before they can become dominant and string a couple of series together.

"The Blues really stepped up in the last game and I can see the potential."

Five-eighth Todd Carney is under the most pressure in the NSW team after a poor performance in the first game marred by three unforced errors.

Halfback Mitchell Pearce will play in his seventh game for NSW and is yet to stamp his authority on a series since his Origin debut in 2008.

Former premiership-winning Eastern Suburbs halfback John Mayes believes the time Carney and Pearce spent together at the Sydney Roosters will hold them in good stead to take a stranglehold on the series.

Mayes, who has lived at Evans Head for many years, was a big supporter of Pearce when he and Carney helped take the Roosters to a grand final in 2010.

"They will need to lift, they were a little bit behind the Queensland pair in game one," Mayes said.

"Pearce is tough and he can handle the rigours of Origin.

"You know Queensland will get it right so he and Todd will need to share the workload and be confident in each other."

Mayes and Junee had stellar careers in Sydney in the 1970s.

Junee left Eastern Suburbs for Manly in 1974 after a player swap brought Mayes back from the Sea Eagles.

Mayes won a premiership with Manly in 1973 then back-to-back premierships with the Roosters after originally playing for the club from 1968 to 1972.

Junee returned to Easts for his final season in 1976, displacing Mayes, but he never won a premiership.

"We played at the same junior club and were both involved in surf lifesaving," Junee said.

"We competed with and against each other but always got on and still do."


  • Where: Sydney
  • When: 8pm
  • Origin I: Qld won 18-10
  • Origin III: In Brisbane on Wednesday, July 4

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