Queensland v New South Wales

Suncorp Stadium

Wednesday, 8.05pm

Ask yourself. Does the passion for your state outweigh that of the passion for your club? For New South Wales Rabbitohs Members and supporters, it’s a pertinent question. Do die-hard Rabbitohs throw their support behind Greg Inglis, Ben Te’o and Chris McQueen, or do they side with the Blues? Or do you simply hedge your bets?

Only two things are certain at this time of year; first, that Rabbitohs fans will be praying for the safe return of their three representatives, and second, that irrespective of who you do end up throwing your support behind, the 2014 Origin series will be a cracker.

It’s experience verses youth – and there’s no prizes for guessing which of the two boast more experience. Queensland’s eight Series wins in a row coupled with a 109 game advantage in terms of overall caps in their side (233 caps for QLD v 124 for NSW) makes the men in Maroon an irresistible force.

Should Queensland conclude the Series with the same squad that takes the field on Wednesday, eight of their players will have played at least 20 Origin matches. The Blues by comparison, will have just the one in the form of Jarryd Hayne. The Blues boast two debutants in the form of halfback Trent Hodkinson and Daniel Tupou, while the Maroon’s have just the one in the form of Aidan Guerra.

The Blues rookie half combination of Josh Reynolds and Hodkinson could well be the key to a NSW revival, Couple them with the skill of Hayne, the brilliance of Tupou and a fearsome forward pack intent on righting the wrong of the last eight seasons, and you have a volatile mix set to explode on Wednesday night when the first whistle is blown.

Will it be a demoralizing ninth-straight Series win for Queensland aided by our three Rabbitohs? Or will New South Wales build a new dynasty beginning in 2014?

Game One 2013

Rabbitoh Chris McQueen made a successful State of Origin debut in game one of the 2013 Holden State of Origin Series despite playing in a defeated Maroons side.

The Maroons utility enjoyed a solid stint on the field in his first Origin outing, recording ten tackles, seven runs and one tackle break, while fellow Rabbitohs teammates Greg Inglis and Ben Te’o carried their good club form in to the Origin arena – Inglis with one try-assist.

Despite the game being riddled with drop-balls, New South Wales made their intentions clear early when they capitalised on a spilt ball from Brent Tate inside the Maroons ten. Jarryd Hayne reaped the spoils after a beautiful hit and spin, reaching out to plant the ball over the line to open the series. James Maloney converted to give the Blues an early 6-0 lead.

Minutes later, a penalty within kicking distance to the Blues for a strip on debutant Andrew Fifita gifted James Maloney two points to extend the Blues lead to 8-0. Queensland’s ill-discipline again gifted the Blues a penalty within kicking distance mere minutes later, but Maloney failed to convert the opportunity to points.

The Blues put themselves under pressure ten minutes from the break after a terrible pass from Mitchell Pearce couldn’t be cleaned up by Luke Lewis on the Blues ten, giving the Maroons a chance to strike back. But some strong on line defence from Mitchell Pearce and Josh Morris easily defused the Maroon threat, bundling Darius Boyd over the touch-line.

Just two minutes later, Michael Jennings planted the ball under the posts from close range after taking on a Maroons defensive line in disarray. Maloney made no mistake with the conversion, extending the Blues’ lead to 14-0.

Just before the interval, the crowd was brought to its feet as Blues Captain Paul Gallen turned back the clock with a swinging arm on Nate Myles right before the two exchanged blows. Gallen was placed on report.

The Maroons came out swinging in the second half, but were denied a try early, with skipper Cameron Smith pulled up for a double movement after an elusive solo run.

Justin Hodges attempted to revive the Maroons in the 63rd minute, with an inspiring run that lead to a try in the corner to Darius Boyd – a well-timed draw and pass from Greg Inglis setting up the four-pointer. Cameron Smith converted from out wide to bring the score to 14-6 in the Blues favour.

The Maroons desperately attempted to claw back with five minutes left, but mistakes coupled with some strong Blues defence halted their progress. The Blues win was New South Wales’ first opening game win since the 2008 series opener.

Keys to Victory:

There are seldom any weak links at Origin level, but if there are, they’ll be exposed very quickly. If experience means anything, then the Maroons will fall straight back into their old ways and carve up the Blues with their flair and their intuitive knowledge of each other.

Expect the Maroons to target the rookie Blues halves pairing of Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson. On the biggest stage the game has, Queensland will be hoping that both these players will second guess themselves at key stages. If that happens, NSW’s attacking game and confidence could go south very quickly.

New South Wales’s defence will need to adapt quickly to the dangerous Queensland attack if they’re to contain them. The likes of Inglis and Slater will be targeted. Focus too much energy on them though, and the rest of the team will do just as much damage across the park.

Spotlight

GREG INGLIS

If there’s one arena that Greg Inglis looks comfortable in, it’s State of Origin. With 21 Origin appearances for 15 tries (60 points), Inglis is one of the most dangerous players on any football field – put a Maroon jumper on him though and he grows even taller and stronger. Inglis will resume his spot in the centres with Billy Slater slotting in at fullback. Expect Inglis to work his magic outside of Australian and Maroon teammates Cooper Cronk and Jonathan Thurston.

CHRIS MCQUEEN

At this time of year, Chris McQueen becomes McQueenslander. After making his Origin debut in Game One of 2013, McQueen quickly found himself in the run-on side in Game’s Two and Three after some impressive performances. After battling injury in the early stages of 2014, McQueen is back and is edging ever-closer to his best form. It could very well come in this series.

BEN TE’O

After having a small run-in with a Kangaroo at Maroon’s training, Ben Te’o is ready to pummel the Blues in what will be his fifth Origin appearance. A hard runner who can slip a pass away in dense traffic, Te’o will play an integral role for the Maroon’s. Expect him to step up during this season and bring his form back to the Rabbitohs.

 

LIGHTS OUT AT SUNCORP STADIUM FOR 100-GAME ORIGIN SPECTACULAR

Suncorp Stadium will be blacked out for 18 minutes prior to kick-off tomorrow night (Wednesday) as part of a spectacular pre-game celebration featuring 22 iconic Rugby League legends and some of the great moments of Origin.

With Game I of the 2014 Holden State of Origin Series marking 100 games of Origin, fans at the match and television audiences worldwide will be treated to a collection of Origin moments that have put smiles on people’s faces since the inception in 1980 of one of sport’s greatest rivalries.

It will open with former Queensland captain Wally Lewis and NSW enforcer Mark Geyer side by side; and includes Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Steve Roach, Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler, Chris Close, Greg Dowling, Petero Civoniceva, Steve Renouf, Michael Hancock, Sam Backo, Paul Vautin, Mark Coyne, Darren Lockyer, Danny Buderus, Tommy Raudonikis, Gorden Tallis, Ben Elias and his mother Barbara, and super coaches Wayne Bennett and Phil Gould.

The pre-game spectacle will also feature a tribute to the “father” of Origin, the late Arthur Beetson, an Immortal who was instrumental in making Origin such a success.

Beetson’s Number 11 Queensland jersey will be retired for Game I only and his four grandchildren - Pedro (16), Jack (12), Riley (9) and Billy Beetson (4) - will lead the XXXX Queensland Maroons on to the field.

 

100th HOLDEN STATE OF ORIGIN BROADCAST LIVE IN 90 COUNTRIES

The historic 100th Holden State of Origin to be played at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night will be broadcast live across Australia through the Nine Network and to Rugby League fans in 90 countries and territories worldwide.

Nations without a dedicated broadcaster in their region will also be able view the game live online for free via www.livestream.com/nrl.

Channel Nine’s coverage of the most-watched annual sporting series in Australia will include a spectacular pre-game celebration featuring 22 iconic Rugby League legends and some of the great moments of Origin since its inception in 1980.

“Every year State of Origin gets better – Wednesday night our nation of sports lovers celebrates the 100thgame of this remarkable series,” said Nine’s Head of Sport, Steve Crawley.

“It will be even bigger again. It truly is the most remarkable concept in Australian sport.”

Internationally, the match will be broadcast on television across Africa, Asia, Papua New Guinea, the United Kingdom, North America, Brazil, the Middle East and the Pacific.

 

HOLDEN STATE OF ORIGIN I NINE NETWORK BROADCAST DETAILS

All telecasts will be LIVE local time (AEST):

5.30pm GEM Perth WA

7.00pm Nine Darwin NT

7.00pm Imparja Alice Springs, NT

7.30pm Nine Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide

7.30pm NBN Northern NSW/Southern QLD

7.30pm WIN QLD, Southern NSW, ACT, VIC, TAS, SA

 

HOLDEN STATE OF ORIGIN I INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTERS

Countries and Territories with TV broadcast in Africa, Asia, Pacific and Middle East)

Setanta Africa: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo Democratic Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawai, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa.

Setanta Asia: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Online Territories: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, China (People's Republic), Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Taiwan (Republic of China), Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

Fiji and Pacific: Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga.

Orbit Showtime:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Palestine, Gaza Strip, West Bank.