It’s at a different time of year and it all feels a little strange, but the 2020 State of Origin series kicks off in Adelaide.
Queensland Maroons v New South Wales Blues @ Adelaide Oval
|AJ Brimson||1||James Tedesco|
|Xavier Coates||2||Daniel Tupou|
|Brenko Lee||3||Clint Gutherson|
|Dane Gagai||4||Jack Wighton|
|Phillip Sami||5||Josh Addo-Carr|
|Cameron Munster||6||Luke Keary|
|Daly Cherry-Evans||7||Nathan Cleary|
|Christian Welch||8||Daniel Saifiti|
|Jake Friend||9||Damien Cook|
|Josh Papalii||10||Junior Paulo|
|Felise Kaufusi||11||Boyd Cordner|
|Coen Hess||12||Tyson Frizell|
|Tino Fa’asuamaleaui||13||Jake Trbojevic|
|Ben Hunt||14||Cody Walker|
|Lindsay Collins||15||Payne Haas|
|Jai Arrow||16||Cameron Murray|
|Jaydn Su’A||17||Angus Crichton|
History: Played 117, Maroons 62, Blues 53
Last Meeting: Game 3, 2019: New South Wales 38 def. Queensland 6
Final Thoughts: While the Queensland Maroons won Game 1 in 2019 before losing the series 2-1, the expectation is for the New South Wales Blues to breeze through the opener and win it all 3-0.
The Blues are $1.36 favourites to win Game 1. They come into this one with a far superior 17 on paper and face a Maroons side blooding eight Origin debutants. Luke Keary, Clint Gutherson and Junior Paulo will also make their debut on Wednesday night, but Gutherson finished 2nd in Dally M voting while Keary is the best five-eighth in the game and Paulo is amongst the best props in the NRL. While Jake Friend can be trusted in his first Origin match with AJ Brimson and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui also in spectacular form, plenty of questions remain over the five other Queensland debutants: Xavier Coates, Brenko Lee, Phillip Sami, Lindsay Collins and Jaydn Su’A.
The middle of the field looks fairly even in the build-up. Christian Welch has developed into a top tier prop forward while he will have the best in the game in Josh Papalii beside him. While Junior Paulo and Daniel Saifiti will offer plenty themselves, it’s an area the Maroons can be confident in. It might be the only area. The backline’s don’t compare and it shows in the try scorer market. Josh Addo-Carr ($1.62), Daniel Tupou ($1.80) and James Tedesco ($2.10) occupy the first three lines of betting before Coates gets a look in for the Maroons at $2.63. Jack Wighton appeals in the centres at $2.63 given his try-scoring form to finish the NRL season. As the only Queensland backline player with Origin experience including 11 tries in 13 games, Dane Gagai’s $2.70 will garner interest too.
With their assumed dominance and Game 1 victory, New South Wales also lead the way in the Man of the Match market. Tedesco’s heroics in Game 3 last year will still be fresh in the minds of punters who look at the Roosters fullback at $5.50. New halves pairing Nathan Cleary ($6) and Luke Keary ($6.50) will no doubt play a significant part in the result – win or lose. For Queensland, they’re looking for Cameron Munster to shake off his premiership-winning hangover and lead them to victory. He’s the shortest of the underdogs at $11.
The Blues took out the last series and come back with much of the same team for this one. Meanwhile, the Maroons really needed to look down the list to find 17 quality players to fill their squad this week. A Blues win seems like a foregone conclusion. But this is Origin. Wayne Bennett is in the coaches box this time around, too. If anybody can take a squad many are writing off and inspire them to play above themselves, it’s Bennett.
Queensland is strong in the right area – through the middle. They have the cattle to make things difficult for New South Wales and force them to the edges where mistakes can creep in.
While Brad Fittler’s side deserves their favouritism, Bennett deserves some benefit of the doubt given his career to date.