‘Can de done’: Bruising Blues not shy of making history

2024 Men's State of Origin - NSW v QLD: Game 2
The Blues can win in Queensland, coach Michael Maguire says. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Victorious NSW coach Michael Maguire says he “called out what I saw” with his pre-game barb about glass houses that resulted in levels of physicality the Queensland players couldn’t match in Melbourne and showed a unity that could carry them to a series win in Brisbane.

The fired-up Blues put their foot down from the outset in Melbourne, smashing the Maroons through the middle and stopping electric Queensland fullback Reece Walsh in his tracks in an emphatic game 2 win.

Maguire, who made five changes to the team that lost the opening match, all with great success, said his players “found their game” and a belief that, despite Queensland having won nine of the past 10 deciding games, “it can be done” when they get to Brisbane.

“One thing about this group is they don’t really look into any of that,” said Maguire, whose side charged out to a 34-0 halftime lead in Melbourne.

“They just work hard on helping each other out and working for each other.

State of Origin Game
The Blues were so dominant. Picture: Mark Stewart

“Wherever you go and play, you’ve got to play and this group, they’re looking internally rather than looking externally.

“At the end of the day, it’s the same field you have got to play and they found their game tonight.

“It can be done,” he said of the possibility of a comeback series triumph.

“If this group gets together like they did for this game, there’s no reason why things can’t happen.”

Maguire threw the glass houses barb after allegations his players targeted Walsh in the opening match. Walsh was knocked out in the opening seven minutes and didn’t return.

He said it was a matter of protecting and showing his support for his players, who returned the favour with their Melbourne performance.

“Look, I just called out what I saw,” Maguire said about his ‘glass houses’ comment after Game II.

“We’ve got a really tight group within us and I felt there were probably a few things (from Queensland) in a certain way (that I didn’t like).

“I just called it out. That’s what I did.

“That’s something there, the team supports each other and looks after each other. You saw that out there.

2024 Men's State of Origin - NSW v QLD: Game 2
Players scuffle during the second half. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

“At the end of the day I was just stating the fact that a few things were said about one of my players. We’re a tight group. I’m going to support that.”

Maguire also said he supported his players flying the flag in on-field skirmishes, which they did several times in the second half in Melbourne that resulted in a sin bin for Liam Martin and only a single try in the final 40 minutes.

“Is it hard to be critical of players running in,” Maguire said.

“You’ve got to make sure that what wins game is that part of the discipline you need. I like seeing the players look after each other, as it’s part of what NSW stands for, but you’ve also got to make sure you’re smart about those moments.

“It’s nice to see the connection between these players, but you’ve got to bottle that and make sure you take that moving forward.”