As we all know, Blues dynasties are historically celebrated with exaggerated claims of Origin’s death and nice lithographs.
But despite New South Wales being poised on the cusp of a fatal three-peat, thankfully the concept is guaranteed to survive. This is thanks mainly to its enduring appeal, and because the NRL needs the cash after Todd Greenberg.
Nevertheless, we must face the prospect of a new normal – a Queensland underdog side that is actually full of genuine underdogs, and not their usual self-appointed underdogs that are $1.09 and undefeated in eight years.
With NSW on-brand in a position of smug superiority, is this year’s series shaping as dire as the pundits predict? Or by drowning in injuries and transition, could the Maroons’ preparation be any more perfect?
Tensions are at a fever pitch for this year’s unique series, especially after a spiteful curtain-raiser between Gladys Berejiklian and Annastacia Palaszczuk over pandemics and whose surname is harder to spell.
But early indicators don’t bode well for a nail-biter, with NSW ahead of Queensland in experience, active cases and a field usually dominated by the Maroons: players lured to play State of Origin, but not for their state of origin.
This has resulted from Brad Fittler issuing sky blue jerseys to the Queensland-pledged Luke Keary and to Penrith’s Jarome Luai after he staked an irresistible claim with a video declaring his love for the Maroons in a Samoa jersey.
But up in Queensland, it’s a different story. While the Maroons’ forward pack is formidable, the remainder of the squad is so sorely bereft of household names and villains that this year’s Ben Ikin moment could actually be Ben Ikin.
Such has been the desperation that thoughts turned to luring Greg Inglis out of retirement and even commandeering the Melbourne Storm.
It sounds crazy, but the premiers had already met the Maroons’ strict residency qualification rules after being stationed on the Sunshine Coast for four months.
But despite the Queenslanders being $3.80 outsiders and fielding a squad including 17 uncapped players, one thing remains: they are still the most untrustworthy entity to come from the state since Clive Palmer.
For those unaware, Maroon write-offs have made an artform of ambushing ascending NSW sides. There were lovable underdogs like Fatty’s Nevilles in 1995, and less lovable battlers of recent times who would facetiously claim outsider status – sometimes while hoisting the shield – claiming “you can never underestimate a side with Steve Turner and Jamie Buhrer.”
It has lead to the Queensland spirit becoming as Australian as apple pie and as equally cloying, a mythological concept built on cornerstones of passion, persecution and Walters brothers.
That’s why the 2020 side is perfectly positioned, with an injury crisis set to pitchfork a range of new names into the Origin arena like Brenko Lee and Phillip Sami to join the ranks of illustrious names like The King and Wally Lewis.
Setting off even more alarms for the Blues is the return of Wayne Bennett, who enters the fray at the midnight hour to replace Kevin Walters after the former boss was poached to oversee another failing Queensland institution.
On cue, Bennett has donned his crankiest and highest-hung pants by already engaging denial mode, firstly by refusing Karl Stefanovic’s cameras before probably refusing to confirm he’s the coach or even if there’s a series this month.
New South Wales should be wary. Bennett has already worked miracles this season, not only taking South Sydney’s no-frills forward pack to a preliminary final but by also attracting allegations of cyber-trolling Anthony Seibold despite his model of phone being candlestick.
As such, we cannot rule out a series of full-blown hyperbolic passion. That’s why I’m preparing for Allan Langer to be magically lured from overseas to roll the Blues in a decider, all while serving a 14-day quarantine period.