Matty Johns calls out Valentine Holmes detail in huge Origin prediction about Latrell Mitchell

Johns is predicting fireworks in the second State of Origin game at the MCG.

Matty Johns has identified Queensland centre Valentine Holmes as a potential weakness that NSW can exploit in State of Origin Game 2 at the MCG next Wednesday. The league identity says he believes the battle of the centres could go a long way to determining the winner of the contest in Melbourne and he expects Latrell Mitchell to target his Maroons opposite Holmes after being recalled to the Blues side for his first Origin game since 2021.

Mitchell's Blues centre partner Stephen Crichton will also go up against QLD speed machine Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, who destroyed NSW with a hat-trick in Game 1 after shifting to fullback to replace Reece Walsh. And Johns is tipping fireworks in the battle between the rival centres after describing the match-up between Crichton and Tabuai-Fidow as an intriguing clash of contrasting styles after labelling the Blues player as "the best defensive centre" he's ever seen.

Pictured left to right, Valentine Holmes, Matty Johns and Latrell Mitchell.
Matty Johns thinks Blues centre Latrell Mitchell should target his Maroons opposite Valentine Holmes in State of Origin Game 2. Pic: Getty

“Crichton and Latrell Mitchell, that centre combination, I look at that combination and that gives me so much belief that (NSW) is going to win the football game,” Johns said on SEN 1170's The Run Home with Joel and Fletch. “If you have a look at the side, that match-up on the right hand side of the field – Stephen Crichton versus Hamiso, will just be one for the ages.

“It’s a primetime match-up – Hamiso, who at the moment is the best attacking player in the comp in my opinion against the bloke who is the best defensive centre I’ve ever seen, that’ll be terrific." But it's on the left side of the Blues' attack where Johns thinks Michael Maguire's men can do some serious damage, and Mitchell can wreak havoc on Holmes in the QLD defensive line. “On the other side too, Val up against Latrell, because I think Latrell can get him with his size and power," Johns added.

Maroons great Cooper Cronk - who won two premierships alongside Mitchell during their playing time together at the Roosters - has also identified the South Sydney fullback as a massive threat to the Maroons. But Cronk says Mitchell's effectiveness in Origin Game 2 will come down to how much he's willing to put in for his state.

"It really is up to Latrell. When he wants to be involved, he can be the best player on the field. When he doesn’t want to be involved, he’s really hard to drag in," Cronk said on the Matty Johns Podcast this week. "Like you’ll say, ‘put this play on’ and he’ll say 'no', but then when he wants the ball, he’ll say ‘just give me the ball’.

"It really depends on the mood he’s in. If he goes after the contest like he has the last couple of weeks, he is very good, so I don’t think motivation will be the issue for Latrell. I think the fact will be when he gets fatigued and when there’s tired moments, will he still be able to hold his gloves up? I see why they picked him. I don’t know why they picked him in Game 2 when they didn’t pick him in Game 1. He’s an out-and-out star and he can literally win you the game with one touch. In the 2019 grand final he did exactly that."

Seen here, Latrell Mitchell playing for the Rabbitohs in the NRL.
Latrell Mitchell is set to make his first Origin appearance for the Blues since 2021 after an impressive run of form for the Rabbitohs in the NRL. Pic: Getty

Mitchell is one of five changes to Maguire's NSW side that lost Game 1 and comes into the side to replace Joseph Suaalii, who was banned for four weeks for the high shot on Walsh in Game 1. Dylan Edwards replaces James Tedesco at fullback after being picked for the series opener but missing out through injury. Cameron Murray and Connor Watson have also been given the nod alongside new Blues halfback Mitchell Moses, who's been brought in to replace the axed Nicho Hynes.

Moses missed Game 1 after sidelined for 10 weeks with a broken foot but earns an Origin recall after starring in the dead-rubber Game 3 victory for NSW last year. And Johns says the Parramatta No.7 and his halves partner Jarome Luai will have an important role to play to ensure their outside backs get quality early ball to allow their attacking games to flourish.

“You know what I think is a really important one going into this game, one thing I like about Mitchell (Moses), he plays straight and that will help our outside men,” Johns added. “If you’re Mitch Moses and Jarome (Luai), I think the simpler you play, the better. Do a little bit less and feed your centres early.”