NRL State Of Origin: Game 1 Preview

Who will take out the series opener?

NRL tips State of Origin

It’s been one of the most hyped Origin openers in recent history, and NRL Tips expert Steve Green has everything you need to know about the blockbuster clash at the MCG.

Well I’ve never seen a series where NSW fans are so confident heading into Game 1 of Origin… and the match isn’t even in Sydney!

With the champion quartet of Smith, Thurston, Cronk and Slater all not playing now, it is understandable for pundits to question QLD’s ability to maintain their dominance.

Those four players have been the spine throughout this era of Maroon dominance.

However it is not as if Queensland are going to be letting a bunch of nobodies take their place!

Although I would have definitely gone with Ponga, I still think Milford, Hunt and Munster are all in terrific form and amongst three of the most dangerous players in the NRL. 

While McCullough is untested at this level, he also has Origin written all over him.

So I think the narrative here, that Queensland are floundering after losing key players, is getting a bit ahead of itself.

Anyone who watched Origin during the 80s and 90s have seen this movie before. Queensland have a few setbacks, the athletically superior Blues outfit look set to dominant, and then somehow, after 80 minutes, Queensland have notched up a come from behind win.

So I think the Blues team, which has 11 rookies, a rookie Origin coach and a heap of expectation and pressure on them, will be feeling pretty nervous on game day.

Damian Cook is in fantastic form at the NRL level, but his running game might not be as effective in the Origin arena, where you don’t have the luxury of running at weak targets in defence.

And then you have the Blues speedy backline. Yes this is probably the most dynamite back five in Origin history, but it is also relatively small and could be found wanting in defence.

Mitchell and Roberts have been close to unstoppable in attack, but yet they have been found wanting at times in defence. If you had to choose between them or Chambers and Inglis in terms of their defensive qualities, you’d be choosing the Queensland pair any day of the week.

For the Blues, I think the real threat they pose is through their forwards. With the in-form Dragons, Jake T, RCG, Chrichton and David Klemmer, I do think that the Blues have the edge in the middle.

The Blues pack make far more metres than Queensland’s, and they have the Maroons covered in the skills department.

As I have outlined previously, every forward pack has a Big Dog. That’s the leader of the pack; the one who takes ownership of the hard runs when you are pinned in your red zone and need a big body to absorb line speed and a bunched defence.

For the Blues, I think that man will be Klemmer.

The Blues pack make far more metres than Queensland’s, and they have the Maroons covered in the skills department.

As I have outlined previously, every forward pack has a Big Dog. That’s the leader of the pack; the one who takes ownership of the hard runs when you are pinned in your red zone and need a big body to absorb line speed and a bunched defence.

For the Blues, I think that man will be Klemmer.

With no Josh Jackson, Aaron Woods and David Fifita, this is a very new look Blues pack and previous key forwards are no longer there.

With 9 caps to his name, Klemmer sits alongside captain Boyd Cordner as by far the most experienced players in this team. In fact, their 18 combined caps make up nearly half of the Blues combined 39 matches.

However, experience aside, this Blues team do lead the Maroons in pretty much every statistical category and from an attacking perspective, NSW will ask a lot of questions here.

Coach Fittler has signaled his intention and the days of trying to grind out a boring 10-8 win are no more for the Blues. They are rightly focused on maximising their comparative advantage – attack!

I have the Blues winning this by about 6 points and therefore think that the main market is pretty spot on. However, I do think that people are underestimating just how well this Queensland defensive line will hold together.

Origin matches are notoriously low scoring, grinding affairs.

NRL Tips members have three bets on tonight’s Origin match, with plenty more to come this weekend for Round 14 of the 2018 regular season.

See who members are backing in tonight’s blockbuster and start winning on the footy.