Matty Johns and Cooper Cronk give predictions, tips, verdict on who will win

Four-time NSW Blues player Matty Johns and 22-time Maroons star Cooper Cronk have unpacked tonight’s State of Origin series opener – and they’re not short of a bold prediction or two.

The pair made their call on who will win, where the battle will be won and lost, and who will put their name up in lights.

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Cooper Cronk:

“Obviously Queensland. I’m going to say 18-14. I think it’s going to be tight,” Cronk said.

“In terms of how it all unfolds, I think this is a tight slugfest and I think someone like Reece Walsh, like Harry Grant, someone with a little bit of experience in that key position comes out with an outstanding play that makes the difference.”

Matty Johns:

“I’ve got New South Wales, 14-10,” Johns said. Both legends believe it will be a low scoring affair, in the typical fashion of Origin series openers.

“Those Sydney Origins and those Melbourne Origins are different to Queensland State of Origins. Advantage defence,” Johns added.


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Cronk: Payne Haas vs Patrick Carrigan

On a previous episode of the podcast, Cronk claimed Payne Haas was the only front rower in the NRL who holds the keys to his club side’s success – and he thinks that translates to the Origin arena, too.

For Queensland, the prospect of nullifying Haas has been made increasingly difficult due to key middle forward absentees. That includes Tom Flegler and Tom Gilbert, but most notably Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, who has made a habit of going after the Brisbane middle in past Origins.

Cronk believes that responsibility now lies with Haas’ club teammate Patrick Carrigan.

“If there’s one guy in the Queensland pack who can stop Payne, I think it’s Carrigan,” Cronk said.

“I truly think he makes this personal. I think these two are going to butt heads for a long time in the middle of the field and I think Carrigan has got the ability to overpower Haas.”

Johns agreed: “Carrigan has got to, because oftentimes that was Tino.”

“When Payne has been out for the Broncos, Carrigan stood up. I feel like he’s ready to launch (and) for me this is the key match up,” Cronk added.

Origin great Myles on QLD game plan | 04:11

Johns:NSW’s defence vs Reece Walsh

For Johns, the key match up in Game I is the battle between New South Wales’ defence and Queensland’s electrifying fullback, Reece Walsh.

“In this game, we’ve got these tough, hardworking guys, great yardage men. Reece is that X-factor,” Johns explained.

When asked by Cronk how he’d nullify Walsh, Johns answered:

“I’d be defending him outside in. Because Coops, this is going to be a tricky game for fullbacks. It’s going to be wet, they’re saying it’s going to be slippery. It’s going to be hard to get a purchase on the ball,” Johns said.

“I would rush him [Walsh] and not give him time. It’s a huge test for the New South Wales defence.”

A key player in Walsh’s corner as he prepares to face a testing New South Wales side is coach Billy Slater. Cronk believes Slater’s tutelage will be critical in helping Walsh become a deciding factor for the Maroons this series.

“He will understand outside-in defence,” Cronk said. “He will understand the kicking games of Nicho (Hynes) and (Jarome) Luai. I’m pretty sure Nicho and Luai will kick the ball as high as possible and the centres and back rowers of New South Wales will fly down and try to rattle the cage of Reece early on.

“He needs to be tough. He needs to be resilient,” Cronk added.

Nicho Hynes in Queensland’s crosshairs | 02:51


Cronk: With Queensland lacking many of the middle forwards who have been pivotal to their previous series wins, like Flegler, Fa’asuamaleaui, and Gilbert, Cronk is tipping Patrick Carrigan to reign supreme in the middle and pick up Man of the Match honours.

“I’m going all in that he dominates the middle and no one gets past him,” Cronk said.

Johns: Johns believes New South Wales’ shock hooker selection Reece Robson is a firm favourite to win the award.

“I like him and I think he’s a tough player,” Johns said. “If we can get ascendancy in the ruck it’ll open up for him. He’s not a classic dummy half in that he’s not going to jump out and get them past the markers. He gives it and goes. He’s a terrific support player.”

“He picks up a try off a support and ends up making 50 tackles,” Johns added.


Cronk: “The new Billy Slater” – referring to Reece Walsh’s performance.

Johns: “Sydney’s Daily Telegraph: You Bluety.”

“Brisbane’s Courier Mail – Rare Blue Steak.”

King gives a look behind the NSW curtain | 04:17

#Matty #Johns #Cooper #Cronk #give #predictions #tips #verdict #win

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