Rugby league is facing the content conundrum.
The greatest three games of any football code in the world are about to kick off. Nothing beats State of Origin for intensity, brutal physicality, and edge-of-the-seat, pulsating, pulverising excitement. I can’t wait for the Blues to get stuck into the Maroons.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m a long-suffering NSW supporter who is sick of Queensland winning series after series – although, I have to say, this year feels a tad different.
Queensland don’t have the same aura of invincibility. No Cameron Smith! No Cooper Cronk! No Johnathan Thurston! (If you’re a NSW supporter, say the last three sentences out loud. It feels soooo good!)
I’m not saying the Blues will win, but this year, they’ll be starting as warm favourites, with new coach Brad Fittler taking a ‘no dickheads policy’ for team selection.
So no Josh Dugan, no Andrew Fifita, no Blake Ferguson (which also sounds pretty good to say out loud).
Markets have NSW at $1.57 to win Game 1, with Queensland at $2.45. Then, if you want odds for the Maroons to come down with a superbug that prevents the entire team from getting out of bed with two days before the kick off, you’ll get around $1.01.
But Freddie and the boys, as well as the parochial NSW media, shouldn’t be fooled by the nonsense that Queensland will trot out in the next few weeks.
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New captain Greg Inglis will be battling a foot, back, neck, shoulder, or some other body-part injury, and is only a five per cent chance of playing (rubbish, he’ll play).
Ben Hunt’s cork is worse than we thought, and he’s on heavy painkillers just to walk around (rubbish, he’ll play).
Valentine Holmes pulled up sore after a training session and left the ground with the assistance of two trainers (rubbish, he’ll play).
Cameron Munster and Ben Hunt have had another spat in the corridors of the hotel they’re staying at (maybe).
Right now, Kevvy Walters and his coaching staff are sitting at a bar, having a few noisy frothies, shuffling their favourite deck of cards, and laughing their heads off as they prepare to play another classic three-card trick to try and throw NSW off their own game – or, at the very least, distract them from their preparation and the task at hand.
To be fair, it’s worked every time in the past, so why wouldn’t it work this year? Even when Queensland had all their superstars playing, they would manage to portray themselves as the underdogs, and NSW supporters (and players) seemed to fall for it hook, line and sinker.
Not this year. Surely the Blues camp is not that stupid.
Cold hard fact: the Maroons have retained 13 players of the squad that won the third and deciding match of last year’s series. It’s such a strong team that the selectors couldn’t find a spot for Origin stalwarts Darius Boyd and Matt Scott.
State of Origin Game 1, June 6 at the MCG. Can’t wait.