Rugby League’s fiercest rivalry will be reignited tonight (Wednesday night) when New South Wales and Queensland do battle in Game I of the 2016 Holden State of Origin at ANZ Stadium. The old adage of “state v state, mate v mate,” will ring true once again, with Rabbitohs, Adam Reynolds and Greg Inglis, featuring for their respective territories, hoping to secure bragging rights over the other.
With the men from north of the border venturing deep into enemy territory, they will no doubt be met with significant hostility as they seek to maintain their dominance over the sky blues. The Queenslanders will be looking to claim their tenth series victory in the past eleven years, inflicting more pain upon their southern neighbours. On the other side of the spectrum, the home side will be searching for redemption after being comprehensively defeated in last years’ decider.
Having been made to make changes leading into the series with Mal Meninga stepping down as head coach and injuries to players such as Billy Slater and Will Chambers, Queensland will head into the clash lacking some of their trademark stability. Undeniably, the Blues will be looking to exploit these misfortunes and put their best foot forward in the opening game.
The hopes of the New South Wales faithful hinge on the newly formed play-making duo of halfback, Reynolds, and five-eighth, James Maloney. With both players having stand-out seasons for their club teams, expectations are riding high leading into the affair. Although Reynolds is yet to feature in the Origin arena, the South Sydney half’s big-game experience will put him in good stead to steer the ship and challenge the likes of Cooper Cronk – should he be fit – and Jonathan Thurston.
The game’s Eighth Immortal, Andrew Johns, knows how influential Reynolds will be tomorrow night, stating that the Souths junior’s kicking game could determine the result.
“His big job is just to steer the team around,” said Johns.
“His kicking game is so importance, I think he will get four or five repeat sets, which are absolute gold in Origin.
“I think his kicking game could be the difference.”
Despite high hopes being held for the NSW rookie halfback, Queensland’s side is littered with experienced options that have been tried and tested. These individuals have proved their worth at the highest level and will ensure that the Maroons are labelled as favourites. One such player with this type of qualification is Greg Inglis, who has been a mainstay in the Origin arena since his debut in 2006.
The South Sydney skipper will run out for his 28th Origin tonight (Wednesday night), occupying the position of left centre. Inglis has developed a reputation as one of the most feared attacking players in State of Origin history, terrorising New South Wales defence alongside his outside man, Darius Boyd – who this year fills the void left at fullback by Billy Slater.
Spotlight: The Debutants
Given the high intensity nature of the affair, all eyes will be on the debutants from both sides. The way in which the fresh faces handle themselves in the daunting setting will ultimately play a crucial role in their team’s success.
NSW have named four uncapped players, with the likes of Adam Reynolds, Matt Moylan, Josh Mansour and Dylan Walker running out for their first Origin fixture. Additionally, Queensland have named two debutants, with Corey Oates and Justin O’Neill donning the Maroon jersey in Game I.
With all six debutants featuring in the backline, get ready to witness some exciting offensive play from players that have been as yet untested in the Origin arena.