Fittler faces toughest Origin task yet

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NSW coach Brad Fittler lost the series opener in Sydney and must now overcome a 28-year hoodoo if the Blues are to continue their dominance under his coaching tenure.

Queensland's 16-10 victory in Sydney earlier this month has left Fittler needing to overcome an unwanted record stretching back to 1994 if the Blues are to win the series.

Only once in State of Origin history have NSW lost a series opener on home soil and come back to win the series.

Phil Gould was the coach of that side in 1994, with victories at the MCG and Lang Park helping them defy history and seal the series.

Fittler has won three of the four series he has taken charge of, but a win over Queensland at Perth's Optus Stadium on Sunday and victory in Brisbane would shape as one of his greatest Origin achievements.

"It's very hard to do and it's a hard challenge for this group of men, but I've got no doubt they are up to it," said former NSW forward Paul Sironen, a member of the 1994 team and a member of Fittler's staff.

"We didn't play well enough in game one and every player will tell you that. We need to win this game to keep the series alive heading up to Lang Park.

"Our record up there - barring last year - hasn't been fantastic."

If NSW do square the series, Queensland will host the final game knowing that they have won eight of the last nine deciders.

The Blues' sole victory in that time came in 2019.

THE STATS THAT MATTER AHEAD OF GAME TWO

*Queensland will aim to clinch the series in the opening two games for the ninth time in the history of State of Origin. They have previously wrapped up the series with a game to spare in 1984, 1988, 1989, 1995, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2016.

*A victory in Perth would give the Maroons a shot at a fifth clean sweep as Origin III heads to Brisbane.

*NSW has only overcome a 1-0 deficit to claim the series on three separate occasions, winning Origin II and Origin III in 1994, 2005 and 2019.

*NSW has won seven of the 12 games played outside of NSW and Queensland in a three-game series. They won 38-6 in the only game played in Perth in 2019.

*NSW has won Origin II on the last three occasions, outscoring the Maroons by 24 points or more each time for an aggregate scoreline of 98-16.

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