Laurie Daley keeps faith despite Mitchell Pearce poor effort
NSW coach Laurie Daley is again facing several selection dilemmas, with widespread calls to axe halfback Mitchell Pearce for the Origin clash in Melbourne next month.
Victorious game one Queensland coach Mal Meninga, however, has a much more pleasurable headache with what to do on his bench if Manly half Daly Cherry-Evans is fit, after North Queensland's Michael Morgan made a solid Origin debut in the 11-10 win at ANZ Stadium.
Daley said after the loss he would "stick" with his latest halves duo of Trent Hodkinson and Pearce despite their failure to set-up a field goal in the closing minutes to spiral the hectic clash into golden point.
Former NSW halfback and Channel 9 commentator Peter Sterling laid the blame for the Blues' failure to level the game with a field goal at the feet of Pearce.
NSW fullback Josh Dugan did get a field goal shot off that could have tied the scores but he was off balance, not expecting to be the marksman to take the kick.
"I thought they were terrific, I thought they combined really well," declared an upbeat Daley, confident NSW could come from 1-0 down and defend the Origin Shield that took them nine years to get their hands on.
"I thought Mitch played with control and Hodko did the job we wanted."
Well not quite.
Queensland took one charge downfield for ice-cool halfback Cooper Cronk to knock over the match-winning field goal after Blues centre Michael Jennings committed the cardinal sin of kicking the ball dead to gift the Maroons seven tackles to get in position for the winning kick.
Jennings was again well contained by Maroons veteran Justin Hodges, who had an outstanding game and NSW selectors surely must look for an alternative.
Winger Daniel Tupou is also on thin ice after an error-riddled Origin.
The Blues will get inspirational skipper Paul Gallen and Brett Morris back for the MCG game.