“The players that were involved in it will take some experiences from it, but no two series are ever the same,” Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans said.

“There’s still a lot of desire there, regardless of the result tonight we still want it more than ever.

“After a loss like that, that next game for a player can’t come quick enough.”

Is Cobbo primed to join the backline?

Valentine Holmes has been a brilliant servant to the Maroons’ jumper, but the North Queensland Cowboys’ star was completely outdone by Latrell Mitchell and the rest of the Blues’ left edge.

It could leave his once near-certain selection up for debate.

Holmes missed six tackles – five in the first half when Mitchell and Brian To’o scored three tries between them – and hardly had a chance to attack.

Valentine Holmes struggled against a rampant Blues’ left edge in the first half.

Valentine Holmes struggled against a rampant Blues’ left edge in the first half.Credit: Getty Images

Veteran centre Dane Gagai was 18th man and could make a case for inclusion, but intrigue will likely surround whether Selwyn Cobbo is ready for a recall.

“I haven’t even thought of that,” Slater said, when asked if changes were afoot.

Cobbo was a standout in game one, but was kept out of the side as Slater sighted the pain-killing injections he had been playing with, and alluded to how mentally drained the 22-year-old was.


But if Cobbo returns for Brisbane in hot form and in a strong frame of mind, the x-factor and physical presence he brings will need serious consideration for inclusion in a bid to stand up to Mitchell and put some aggression into the backline’s defence.

Holmes made his name as a winger, while he plays alongside Taulagi on the left in clubland, so a shift could beckon. But it would take a brave man to split up the latter’s combination with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, after the duo combined for a try once again.

Queensland’s lack of size was exploited – is Fifita’s return nearing?

The absence of star middles Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Tom Gilbert (both ACLs) and Thomas Flegler (shoulder) was severely felt in game two.

So, will David Fifita be issued an SOS for the decider?

Could David Fifita be called on for game three?

Could David Fifita be called on for game three?Credit: Getty

In the series opener, New South Wales’ strength in the engine room somehow managed to wrestle back momentum for a 30-minute period despite having just 12 men on the field, and with a full side on the park they made their presence felt.

Star prop Payne Haas silenced his doubters with 193 metres, while also making 31 tackles for no misses, and only club teammate Pat Carrigan (154 metres) seemingly able to stand up to the Blues’ size.

When Slater dropped a bombshell on the eve of the series in axing Fifita, he suggested there were “standards” in his game that he had failed to reach up to that point.

But there is no doubt the 115kg wrecking ball’s stature would add some much-needed punch to the interchange.

Fifita has busted 17 tackles and run for 363 metres in his two outings since the game one selections, and given the limited minutes given to Felise Kaufusi and Kurt Capewell, the 24-year-old’s comeback could beckon ahead of the Suncorp Stadium showdown.

Who will back up?

Tabuai-Fidow’s shoulder injury suffered in the first half has not only put him in serious doubt for the Dolphins this week, but the Maroons’ return to Brisbane.

“I think he’s picked up an AC injury, it was a pretty tough effort for him to get back out there – he obviously wasn’t 100 per cent, but he knew the team needed him,” Slater said.

“I don’t know [if he will be right for game three].”

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow suffered a shoulder injury.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow suffered a shoulder injury.Credit: Getty Images

It is hard to imagine Broncos coach Kevin Walters will make Haas back up in New Zealand against the Warriors, but there is every chance the Queensland contingent will be eager to back up for Brisbane, particularly Carrigan in the injury absence of skipper Adam Reynolds.

Cowboys boss Todd Payten has already confirmed Nanai will not line up, but his North Queensland teammate, hooker Reece Robson, backed up after game one despite an 80-minute performance and made half the tackles in game two after earning an early spell.

Ben Hunt, Harry Grant, Kaufusi and Capewell will likely line up.

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