Latrell Mitchell truth NSW can't ignore, brutal reality about DCE: Good, bad, ugly of State of Origin 2

NSW's thumping win over Queensland in State of Origin 2 has thrown up plenty of questions.

😃 The good: Latrell Mitchell's stunning return to State of Origin

😔 The bad: Queensland facing changes ahead of deciding Game 3

😡 The ugly: Grim truth about DCE as Mitchell Moses shines

It doesn’t matter if Latrell Mitchell is out of form, unfit or returning from injury - he is a must pick every time a NSW team is named. He scares, torments and intimidates anything in a maroon jersey.

Queensland players simply can't handle him and their fans froth at the mouth at the mere mention of his name. He wasn't the best player on the park in NSW's big MCG win but he was close to it.

Daly Cherry-Evans and Latrell Mitchell.
Queensland don't have much in the bank after Daly Cherry-Evans, while Latrell Mitchell was brilliant in his return to State of Origin for NSW. Image: Getty

Poor Val Holmes will have tyre marks all over his chest today after being trampled underfoot by the South Sydney superstar. The Blues feed off Mitchell's enormous confidence and self-belief and are a different side when he's out there.

"He does so much for our team and has so much pride in the jersey," second-rower Angus Crichton said after the game. "He has so much belief in himself and his players and has an aura about him. He's a freak."

After Mitchell rag-dolled Queensland fullback Reece Walsh late in the game, Andrew Johns commented: "He's just got a presence about him." NSW has never lost a series Mitchell has been part of. Say no more.

We will soon find out how rock-solid Queensland's pick and stick mantra – not to mention the anti-criticism pact taken by ex-players – is after the Game 2 thrashing. The Maroons are quick to throw shade at NSW any time there are changes to the Blues side following a loss, implying Queensland loyalty is greater than NSW's.

We will see. So what changes – if any – might Queensland make ahead of the series decider at Suncorp Stadium? Holmes had arguably his worst game at Origin level on Wednesday night but has enough runs on the board to retain his spot.

Five-eighth Tom Dearden had a shocker and may feel some heat, while Reece Walsh was ineffective at fullback. But it's the bench where coach Billy Slater could produce his scalpel and make a few incisions.

Daly Cherry-Evans and Queensland teammates in Origin 2.
Daly Cherry-Evans and Queensland teammates look on during State of Origin 2. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The Blues got so much more value off the pine than Queensland and the Maroons may now look to the out-of-favour David Fifita to add some firepower. Selwyn Cobbo may also come under consideration.

Asked if there would be any changes for the series decider, Maroons coach Billy Slater said: "I haven’t even thought of that. We're still Queenslanders."

But former NSW coach Phil Gould predicted: "There will be changes to their side and changes to their mindset. They won’t be soft in Game 3. It's a completely different animal when we get to Queensland for the decider.

"NSW needs to be wary about coming off the back of this and expecting to roll into game three and it being the same. A decider in Queensland has been NSW's achillies heel for four decades."

Mitchell Moses' nine out of 10 performance for the Blues exposes an ugly reality for Queensland heading into the next few years of Origin. While Maroons halfback Daly Cherry-Evans gets set to sign off from rep footy – this could possibly be his last Origin series – the Blues have two quality No.7s to choose from.

Moses' game at the MCG was that good it had many asking whether he would have been retained for Game 3 ahead of Nathan Cleary even if the injured Panther was available. It’s not a decision Blues coach Michael Maguire will have to make this year, but he may next year.

Nathan Cleary and Mitchell Moses.
Nathan Cleary might have a fight to get the NSW halfback role back from Mitchell Moses. Image: Getty/Channel 9

If Moses leads NSW to a series-deciding victory next month, he will be even harder to move in 2025. "It means competition. Those players in the off-season are busting their backsides to get in front of each other," Immortal Andrew Johns said of the Moses v Cleary rivalry.

"There is nothing like competition to keep you up here (at a high level). Sometimes when you’re successful and going well, you can drop your guard a little bit and drop that five per cent. The competition between them is good for NSW."