State of Origin Game 1: Steve Green’s Final Word

It's back! Our NRL analyst and rugby league expert Steve Green brings you his full match preview for Game 1... as well as the best value bets.

state of origin

State of Origin Game 1 Preview

For the first time in a long time, NSW are favourites to beat Queensland in Game 1 at Suncorp! With Inglis, Thurston and Matt Scott out injured, as well as Slater being left out by coach Kevin Walters, the money has come flooding in for the Blues.

But now that I have had a chance to properly analyse the 34 players that have been named, and considering the home ground advantage, I think the money coming for NSW might be a little off the mark.

Queensland

Although Queensland are missing some big names, they still feature a number of superstars that know how to win Origin. Smith, Cronk and Boyd have not only shown how to win Origin series, but they are also the core of the Australian spine. And with Milford filling in for Thurston, the Maroons will have one of the most dangerous players in the NRL. Milford’s form since Hunt has been out has been amazing and I think his combination with Cronk will be the key.

Where Queensland is a little light on is the outside backs. O’Neil is a very solid defender, but is yet to score a try this year. Similarly, Dane Gagai, despite having a reputation of being an attacking livewire, has only crossed for one try this year.  Chambers and Oates have decent strike rates but nothing special. So this is a fair way off the three quarter line that used to feature the likes of Inglis and Hodges.

Up front, the Queenslanders are really hoping guys like Guerra and Myles can improve on their club form. They are averaging only about 80 metres a game, whereas the NSW bench forwards are all well over the 100 metre mark.

But with McGuire, Gillett, Thaiday and Papalli leading the way, this Queensland pack still have a whole host of Australian-quality forwards to rely on. The one that I think is key and who is in career best form is Josh Papalli. The wide-running back rower will terrorise the NSW fringes and with his work rate better than ever, Papalli will move from being a very useful Origin bench player to one of the most important players of the series (more on this later).

New South Wales

This Blues team has been building over the past few seasons and with Pearce in great form as well as guys like Tedesco, Dugan and Hayne, they have a stack of strikepower out wide. Up front, the likes of Klemmer, Fifita and Woods will provide the size, while Cordner, Graham and Frizell have the skills and mobility. Then you have the tireless Jake Trbojevic, who is tailor-made for the Origin arena.

So whilst it’s no wonder NSW fans are daring to dream, there are still few reasons to be cautious:

  • Mitchell Pearce has been selected and despite his stellar club form, his record at Origin level is horrible.
  • Nathan Peats is playing his debut game and despite being solid at club level, he is lining up against a player that I consider to be the greatest player of the modern era.
  • Coach Laurie Daley presiding over a Blues team that has averaged less than 12 points a game since his tenure began.

While guys like Ferguson and Hayne are dynamite on their day, they haven’t been in amazing form this year. They are also form a relatively new combination, whereas the Queenslanders have picked a bunch of players that have been there and done that.

On my ratings, NSW do have the edge… but it’s not as much as the market suggests. Plus the Origin home crowd advantage is massive! The game is all about dominating the ruck and winning the forwards battle, and having 50,000+ screaming Queenslanders will definitely ensure the Maroons get some marginal calls go their way.

With home ground advantage and squad experience factored in, I think Queensland will win this by a point.

With such a small difference between myself and the bookies, I don’t think there is enough value to have a bet on the head-to-head. So far this season, my achilles heel has been representative games and the Auckland Nines. Take these horror weekends out and focus on the NRL round-to-round results, and the profit on turnover would be pretty damn impressive.

So I am not going to make a marginal bet on this match.

Prediction: Queensland by 1.

Total Points

I think this will be a low scoring affair as most Origin matches have been in recent years. Over the past four series, a team has only managed to scored 20 points or more on five occasions  across the twelve matches.

In terms of Game 1 scores, neither team has not scored 20 points Game 1 since 2010!  With Queensland naming a particularly defensive team and NSW struggling to score points for the past few seasons, I think there’s a good chance that neither team scores 20 points in this match.

Sportsbet currently have this option paying 2.45. I have it priced at about 2.00.

Bet: 1 unit – Race to 20 points: Neither team to score 20 points.  Sportsbet, $2.45.

For the same reasons, I think that the under total points is value here.

Bet: 1 unit  – Total Points under 33.5.  Bet365, $1.90.

Exotics

Origin provides a very unique opportunity to bet on some markets not available in the NRL, one of these being the man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series markets.

I used to have a field day betting on these before the NRL banned them from being offered, and so I’ve had a good hard look at each of the 34 players to see if there’s any value here.

When you go through past winners, Cam Smith jumps out as the deserved favourite. The guy has already racked up an amazing four ‘Player of the Series’ awards (2007, 2011, 2013 and 2016). With Smith currently leading the Dally M by a massive margin, the Australian Skipper deserves to be favourite and although it’s not my style, I’m tempted to back the short-priced favourite here.

But the player that I think holds the key for NSW has gone a little under the radar this week… and that’s the Wests Tigers fullback!

Tedesco has played in a team that has struggled massively this year, but despite limited opportunities and a few head knocks cutting short his game time, his stats are still very impressive. With a quality team around him and NSW standing a close-to-even chance of winning this on my ratings, I think the superstar fullback should be among the favourites here.

There is a fair bit of variance with the bookies, but Bet365 are offering 15.00 and that is value.   I would have Tedesco at 10.00 here, so even if you miss the 15.00, prices elsewhere are good value too.

Bet: 0.5 units – Game 1 man of the match: James Tedesco to be man of the match.  Bet365, $15.

For the longer term, as described earlier I think Josh Papalli will be one of the best forwards in each game. With Queensland playing two homes games I think he’s a slight chance of getting player of the series (the Wally Lewis Medal), and there’s some favourable odds being offered about this.

If you look at the past winners of this prestigious award, guys like Corey Parker (2015), Paul Gallen (2014) and Nate Myles (2012) have shown that it’s not always the glitzy superstar that takes home this award. Over three games, if Papalli carries over his club form and Queensland win the series, he will be in with a chance.

Sportsbet are offering $34 on this and that’s worth a 0.25 unit bet.  I would have Papalli at 28.00 here… still a roughie, but a bigger chance than the bookies think he is.

Bet: 0.25 units – Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series: Josh Papalli.  Sportsbet, $34.


NRL season: now $299 (was $599)

Now that we’re well into the year, our NRL season membership price has been cut in half. It’s been a very solid season so far and Steve is confident of building on our profits for the rest of 2017.