AAP Rugby

Smith predicts firing DCE, misery for NSW

By AAP Newswire

Former Queensland captain Cameron Smith says NSW have picked a better side despite dropping Latrell Mitchell but has still predicted "misery" for the Blues in Sunday's State of Origin II in Perth.

And Smith claimed Daly Cherry-Evans would be the man to cause NSW's pain after the Maroons skipper was on Friday cleared to play along with Queensland's other fitness concerns.

Smith - who played a record 42 Origins - said he liked the look of the Blues side after they made seven changes following their 18-14 game one loss.

"It is a very different looking Blues side and I feel it is a stronger Blues team," he said in Perth on Friday.

"I know there were a few eyebrows raised with Latrell Mitchell not being there - that was a surprise for me too given the X-factor that is around him.

"As a whole I feel as though they are a much more complete footy side when you add the likes of (Tom) Trbojevic and Dale Finucane playing his first game.

"He (Finucane) is a no-frills player and he is what I think the Blues need in this match."

Yet Smith believed a fully fit Cherry-Evans would seal Queensland's 12th series win in 14 years after overcoming a tender ankle and shoulder soreness.

Cherry-Evans was officially given the green light to play by Queensland coach Kevin Walters on Friday along with centre Dane Gagai (virus), fullback Kalyn Ponga (calf) and prop Dylan Napa (broken wrist).

Cherry-Evans played his first game in five weeks after ankle surgery when he inspired Queensland's 18-14 game one victory in Brisbane on his debut as skipper.

Smith was impressed - but warned NSW Cherry-Evans would only be better in game two.

"I thought he led the team around beautifully, especially coming off a severe ankle injury," Smith said.

"But when I was watching the game I was thinking 'I don't think he is 100 per cent right' - he wasn't himself.

"So he will be even better (in game two). I think we will see more of a running game on Sunday.

"The ankle will be a lot better. I think that spells more misery for the Blues."

Cherry-Evans admitted he was daring to dream of lifting the Origin trophy after overcoming his shoulder issue suffered in his last round NRL clash for Manly.

"Once you are put in a position of captaincy, you certainly dream big, you dream of holding the shield up," he said.

"I'm lucky enough to go out there with 16 other players and potentially have that opportunity.

"We understand what is on the line as a side and we are excited about that and we can't wait to get out there."

Meanwhile, Walters played down their injury dramas, backing biggest concern Napa to start in the front row with a heavily strapped wrist.

"He's a tough character. And a fit and firing Dylan is exactly what Queensland needs to get us out of the blocks."