In the past three series, Queensland have won the opening game by margins of 4 (16 – 12, 2010), 8 (18 – 10, 2011) and 8 (14 – 6, 2013) with each of the games producing less then 28 match points.
Whilst Qld Fullback Greg Inglis is the most prolific try-scorer in Origin history, his winger team-mate Darius Boys also boasts a very good record, having scored three tries in the past two Origins played at Suncorp and six from as many games over the past two series.
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Somewhat surprisingly, fullback Billy Slater hasn’t scored in Origin since Game III 2011.
For the Blues it is the Morris Brothers and centre Michael Jennings that historical have provided the majority of the NSW tries.
Between this trio they have registered six tries in the past two series and the Blues’ halves will be looking to get the ball into their hands as quickly as possible.
Jarryd Hayne returns to the Blues line up in the fullback spot for only the second time since Game II 2010. He has been in super form for his Club side Parramatta this season and will prove a real weapon for the Blues in attack.
Of Queensland’s past nine victories, four games have been won by a margin of ten points or more and three of those wins have come at Suncorp Stadium.
A tried and true Queensland line-up playing the series opener at Suncorp, two factors where their record is very strong, in-front of a parochial home crowd should prove too hard a nut for the new edition of the Blues to crack.
TIP: QLD 1 – 12 @ $2.85
Greg Inglis First Try + QLD 1 – 12; $17.00
Darius Boyd First Try + QLD 1 -1 2; $19.00
|New South Wales Blues||2.85||2.80||2.90||2.80||2.85||2.90|
All odds are subject to change. Odds listed are correct at the time of the latest update.
Queensland Maroons team for State of Origin 2014 Game 1:
1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Greg Inglis, 4. Justin Hodges, 5. Brent Tate, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Nate Myles, 11. Chris McQueen, 12 Matt Gillett, 13 Corey Parker, 14. Daly Cherry-Evans, 15. Ben Te’o 16. Josh Papalii, 17. Aidan Guerra 18. Will Chambers, 19. Jake Friend
Queensland’s quest for a ninth straight Origin series will commence this Wednesday with the first of two Origin matches at Suncorp Stadium this year.
Queensland haven’t lost in Brisbane since the final game of the 2009 series, six games ago, which was a dead-rubber after they had won the first two matches.
The home-side head into this game looking very familiar, with the only change to the victorious game 3 line-up from last year, being the inclusion or Rooster Aidan Guerra to the bench for Sam Thaiday who is out due to a calf injury.
The partnerships that Queensland has been able to build through the consistency of their line-up have proved invaluable time and time again over the years.
As their reign approaches a decade, many question the average age of the Queensland squad and if they’ll be able to keep pace with another year of Origin however, the Maroons average age is 28 whilst for the Blues it is 26.8.
Queensland will field seven over the age of 30 on Wednesday night whereas the Blues have six in this age bracket.
It’s an argument that the pen can be put through quickly.
Queensland’s Achilles heel will be their starts, the first quarter of the game, which they’ll have to address as for the past couple of series this area of their game as seen them behind early however, this is the first Origin opener played in Brisbane since 2011 and only the second since 2007 so their should be no excuse on this front either as they’ll have the wave of an emotional home-crowd support behind them.
New South Wales Blues team for State of Origin 2014 Game 1:
1. Jarryd Hayne, 2. Brett Morris, 3. Josh Morris, 4. Michael Jennings 5. Daniel Tupou, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Robbie Farah, 10. James Tamou, 11. Ryan Hoffman, 12. Beau Scott, 13. Paul Gallen, 14. Trent Merrin, 15. Anthony Watmough, 16. Luke Lewis, 17. Tony Williams
NSW got to within two points of breaking the Maroons dominance in the final game of last year’s series, losing 12 – 10.
It was the third year in the row that the series went to the third game and NSW, who had edged closer to a series victory each year since the QLD white-wash of 2010, looked well placed at the start of this year to register their first Origin series win since 2005.
However, several injuries and some of the players from last year’s squad struggling to find form have seen a severe shake-up for the NSW Blues side this year with plenty of new faces in the backline including a new half and five-eight combination.
Canterbury’s Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds, who had led their side to eight wins from ten games this season, have been selected as the halves over the top of out-of-form Roosters James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce.
It will be Hodkinson’s first taste of Origin whilst Reynolds only played 15mins in the final game last year. It’ll be a massive challenge for the pair charged with producing enough points to counter’s Queensland’s back-line who at club level, enjoying playing behind one of the biggest forward packs in the league who often have the advantage over their opposition.
To assists his halves, NSW Coach Laurie Daley has gone with a solid, no frills forward pack that boasts plenty of experience and with the inclusion of young firebrand Aaron Woods in the front-row, expect NSW to be able to hold their own up front.
Another positive for NSW is Hodkinson form with the boot. He has kicked them at a strike rate of better than 85% this year and in Origin where points are hard to come by, his accuracy will be an advantage.
The form of Jarryd Hayne shapes as the key to NSW’s hopes of upsetting Queensland in the State of Origin opener at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.
Hayne has produced some outstanding displays for Parramatta this season, rekindling memories of his stunning purple patch in 2009 when he led his side to the grand final.
The Parramatta superstar is the most experienced member of Laurie Daley’s squad with 17 Origins to his name.
He burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old when he was picked on the wing by the late Graham Murray and scored the first of his eight tries in a 25-18 defeat in Brisbane.
Daley started this year with Josh Dugan pencilled in for the fullback spot with Hayne pushed into the centres.
But three days before Daley named his side the Parramatta No.1 dismantled Dugan’s St George Illawarra 36-0, scoring two tries in the process, forcing the coach into a rethink.
Parramatta great and former NSW forward Nathan Hindmarsh, who played alongside Hayne for seven years, said it was the right decision and noted he’d seen a real change in the attitude of the 26-year-old since the arrival of Brad Arthur as coach.
“He’s getting better and better every year,” Hindmarsh told AAP.
“He is a very smart rugby league player but in the past I think he has lacked a bit of discipline with his training.
“But I haven’t seen that this year, he’s been far better than in previous years and I think that has been shown with the form he’s shown.”
Hindmarsh claims the high quality performances of 2009 become something of a burden for Hayne, who has never quite reached those heady heights again.
However, he believes he’s getting close this year and believes he can be the difference for a NSW side chasing a first series win in nine years.
“I think everyone has been waiting for him to do what he did in ’09 and that has been a huge pressure for him to deal with,” Hindmarsh said.
“He’s also had to deal with injuries which haven’t helped and now he’s starting to realise how dangerous he is with the ball in his hand again.
“He had to be fullback for NSW, just the way he carries and returns the ball and his vision when he passes it.”
A hamstring injury sustained two days after NSW’s win in game one last year sidelined Hayne for the remainder of the series and Hindmarsh believes it could have been different had he stayed fit.
“Origin just seems to bring it out in him,” he said.
“Even when he’s not been in great form and out on the wing, he steps up to Origin and blitzes it. He can be playing average or not at his best but when he pulls on that jersey he steps up.”