Andrew Johns calls out player Queensland 'can't have' in same position for State of Origin 3

Johns believes the Maroons need to shift Valentine Holmes to the wing and play Cobbo at centre,

NRL great Andrew Johns believes if the Maroons are any chance of winning the State of Origin decider they need to make changes to their right edge. In Game 2 Latrell Mitchell tormented Valentine Holmes, who was playing right centre, and the NRL immortal believes if they leave the same match-up in Game 3, the Origin shield will be headed back to NSW.

Mitchell ran rampant on the Blues left in Game 2 setting up winger Brian To'o before crashing over for a try of his own in a first-half masterclass. His intimidating presence in defence also helped strengthen NSW's edge as he completely shut out Holmes in what was a complete performance.

Pictured left Andrew Johns and right Valentine Holmes and Kalyn Ponga
Andrew Johns believes the Maroons must shift Valentine Holmes to the wing and play Selwyn Cobbo at centre. Image: Getty

Holmes missed nine tackles in what was a horror night for the Maroons veteran, while inside him Daly Cherry-Evans missed six as the left-side attack of the Blues ran rampant, with Angus Crichton, Dylan Edwards, Mitchell and To'o tearing Queensland to shreds. Following that display, Johns says Billy Slater must act fast and decisively and move Holmes onto the wing in place of the injured Xavier Coates and bring in a new centre.

"They have to make a change on the right edge," he said on the 'Freddy and The Eighth' podcast on Wednesday. "They can not have Valentine Holmes at right centre. I know they are all gonna blow up and say they're not listening to NSW - but with Xavier Coates out, they have to put Valentine Holmes on the wing and put Cobbo at centre, without a doubt. Or they go for experience and someone who has been there before in Dane Gagai.

"Leading into Game 2, the narrative and the talk from NSW was that Latrell was in their heads. If he wasn't in their heads, he is now - they just have to make a change. They just couldn't handle it."

It is expected that Slater will shake things up for Game 3, with most changes expected to be in the forward pack. However, there have also been murmurs that he may rush Kalyn Ponga back into the side to provide an X-Factor off the bench.

But the most likely change is for Slater to recall barnstorming Titans back-rower David Fifita. The Gold Coast star was overlooked for Games 1 and 2, with the Queensland coach selecting Jeremiah Nanai and Jaydn Su'a in the second row.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 20: David Fifita of the Titans celebrates a try during the round seven NRL match between Gold Coast Titans and Manly Sea Eagles at Cbus Super Stadium, on April 20, 2024, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
David Fifita is likely to earn an Origin recall for the series decider.

But after a dominant display in Gold Coast's 66-6 win over a horrendous Warriors outfit in his last outing, Fifita is likely to be too good to refuse. The 24-year-old ran for 195m and had 10 tackle breaks in a dominant display and if he is to put together another stellar effort against the Sharks on Friday night, it would be a shock to see him left out again.

Competition for spots in the Maroons back-row is undeniably fierce and Nanai and Su'a could find themselves on the outer as could versatile Warriors forward Kurt Capewell and Dolphins veteran Felise Kaufusi, who failed to make any real impact off the bench for Game 2. The size and power of North Queensland forward Heilum Luki could also see him earn a call-up.