The 2012 State of Origin series kicks off in Melbourne as New South Wales try to end Queensland’s six year reign by winning the first match of what should be an intriguing series. Join us for live scores and commentary from 7:30pm AEST.
NSW coach Ricky Stuart has picked a side full of risk with Michael Jennings and Jarryd Hayne gaining selection despite their horror starts to the season for the Panthers and Eels respectively. Jennings has been playing reserve-grade NSW Cup football, but gets his chance tonight against Queensland.
Stuart has also rewarded Todd Carney with his maiden Blues jumper after impressing with his performances for the Cronulla Sharks.
Manly forward Tony Williams will also make his debut for NSW this season despite the fact that he hasn’t played football for the past seven weeks due to suspension.
There is no doubt that Stuart has taken a gamble, in the aim of scoring points against Queensland.
The Maroons are without former inspirational captain Darren Lockyer for the first time since the stone-age, but Queensland have once again stuck with their star-studded core of players responsible for leading their state to six consecutive series wins.
Superstars Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis and Johnathon Thurston are all in superb form this season and should be favoured to cause NSW huge problems if the Blues cannot contain them tonight.
State of Origin matches are always won by the team that displays the greatest intensity but that can last the full 80 minutes of high-paced action. Game 1 will be no different.
In last year’s decider, Maroons forwards Matt Scott, Petero Civoniceva, Nate Myles and Dave Taylor once again got the better of their Blues counterparts and will likely dominate again if NSW fail to match Queensland’s intensity.
On paper, the Blues possess a pack capable of dominating the Maroons and they must deliver on rugby league’s biggest stage.
Hooker Robbie Farah gets another chance to cement his claim as the Blues leading no.9, but will need to aim up defensively if he is to convince doubters of his worth at Origin level.
Debutant James Tamou will also be expected to fire upfront alongside fellow debutant Tony Williams, who will start the game from the bench.
If the preceding players showcase their best form, it will go a long way to nullifying the attacking threat that Slater, Thurston, Smith and Cronk present.
Furthermore, it will allow the new halves pairing of Mitchell Pearce and Carney to showcase their creative passing and kicking games.
If NSW fail to win the forward battle however, Queensland will yet again emerge victorious, particularly if a backline containing Justin Hodges and Greg Inglis is given room to move, and Billy Slater in hot try-scoring form.
The Blues could manage to get themselves into a position to win the contest, but the Queensland side containing the best game-breakers in rugby league will always be too hard to stop. This will prove to be the difference in the end, and I’m tipping Queensland by 6.
Origin 1 – Photo Gallery
Origin 1 – Fight video