Boyd Cordner has been retained as captain in a Kangaroos merit team that features emerging NRL premiership-winning stars Tino Fa’asumaleaui and Ryan Papenhuyzen.
It’s time for the greatest sporting show Australia has to offer, with the State of Origin series kicking off tomorrow. The Roar’s NRL expert tipping panel are back to tell you who is winning and why.
Origin. In November. New South Wales versus Queensland. In Adelaide.
It’s a weird new world we are living in, but another three weeks of rugby league is something no one has ever said no to. Well, maybe except for club coaches who will watch this series nervously, given the start of the next season is only four months away.
The New South Wales squad certainly looks the stronger of the two on paper, but as experience will tell us, footy games aren’t played on paper.
Just ask Paul Vautin and any Queensland fans old enough to remember that series.
There is also an element of unknown in this year’s series. So many debutants is one thing, but instead of being jammed into the middle of the season, we find ourselves at the end of the finals and with a bunch of selected players having not played in weeks.
That is going to make for a curious opening as those who didn’t play finals try to rediscover their match form while adjusting to an Origin arena without a full house for the first time.
In terms of tipping, we are resetting the scoreboard. AJ won the season’s tipping out of the expert panel, winding up a few points back from The Crowd, but in good news for everyone else, it’ll be everyone taking off from zero.
Four points are on offer for each game, with the panel to tip the result, margin, first try-scorer and man of the match, while next week’s article will also feature the women’s Origin, making for a top total score of 13 over the next three weeks.
Remember to get your tips into the form below by 6pm (AEDT) on Wednesday to be featured as part of the Crowd’s tips for Origin 1.
Tip: Queensland by 10
Man of the match: Josh Papalii
First try-scorer: Daniel Tupou
Just when we’d all switched to full-on Sheffield Shield cricket mode, along comes a coronavirus-delayed State of Origin series. Will we all be able to tear ourselves from our daily six hours of marvelling at the talents of Conor McInerny, Josh Inglis and Jack Wildermuth?
I honestly can’t say for certain. Let’s just watch this midweek rugby league and see if it can grab our attention.
New South Wales are coming into this series as they usually do, blown up in the press as some kind of untouchable team of immortals. And there’s a decent reason for that, what with the recent series wins and a team stacked with individuals fresh off a demanding finals series.
Queensland, on the other hand, have Wayne. And a backline of Origin neophytes who will be so keyed up they may well burn out after 20 minutes.
AJ Brimson, Phillip Sami and Xavier Coates are all the kind of player Wayne will let off the leash and there’s brutal forwards in Josh Papalii, Christian Welch and Tino Faasuameleaui.
They’ll all need to put in a big shift too, because Queensland’s bench of Hunt/Collins/Su’A/Arrow is significantly lesser against the NSW setup. Blues coach Brad Fittler has some serious power off the pine in the form of Cody Walker, Angus Crichton, Campbell Graham and Payne Haas, who must feel weird being around NRL standard players.
I’m very happy for the rugby league to still be hanging around and this series will be good fun. As a neutral, I’m on the Maroons. Mainly for the chaos – if they get that win I want to see the measured, considered responses from the Sydney press. And a half a grin from the master coach too.
Tip: New South Wales by 8
Man of the match: James Tedesco
First try-scorer: Josh Addo-Carr
When you compare the talent in the two State of Origin teams, on paper the NSW Blues look much stronger and it’s for that reason that I’m predicting a Blues win by 8 points.
The real area where the Blues will have the advantage is with their backline with the likes of James Tedesco, Josh Addo-Carr and Jack Wighton in excellent form.
The Blues also have the advantage of many of their key players featuring in the finals, so there will continuity. For many of the Maroons, this will be the first rugby league they have played since the end of the regular season. At the moment, it is unknown what impact this will have.
Josh Addo-Carr will score the first try with James Tedesco man of the match.
Tip: New South Wales by 4
Man of the match: Junior Paulo
First try-scorer: Jack Wighton
It’s no wonder in this crazy year that State of Origin is also very different. Leaving aside that the series is being played at the end of the season, we’ve got 3 games in 3 weeks, so injury and fatigue will be a large factor.
More so than ever before, the strength of the opposing squads will be critical in a who wins the series.
However, whilst some things change, some things stay the same. We always disrespect young Queensland squads and it always bites us on the backside.
There’s no doubt that Queensland are inexperienced, with six debutants in the starting 13. Inexperienced – tick, underdogs – tick, absolutely dangerous – also tick.
But, they happen to have experience where it really counts, with Daly Cherry Evans and Cameron Munster in the halves. They also have arguably the best prop in the game in Josh Papalii. If the Queensland forwards get a roll-on, the halves will create plenty of opportunities for the outside backs.
Yes, Queensland will win at some stage this Origin series. But I can’t see it happening in Adelaide.
The class of the NSW team is probably best explained via Cameron Murray starting from the bench. Murray walks into just about any representative team but can’t get a start here.
Junior Paulo gets rewarded for a superb season whilst the rest of the pack have been involved in a series wins for the Blues. Luke Keary and Nathan Cleary form a new halves combination but they should complement each other nicely.
NSW does hold an edge in backline class and will be causing plenty of headaches for Wayne Bennett.
I think NSW will get the job done but anyone predicting a blow out will be disappointed. The Blues will get home by four points in a first up thriller.
I will back Jack Wighton to score first after some nice lead-up work from Josh Addo-Carr.
In terms of man of the match honours, I will go with Junior Paulo. He’s played some big minutes for the Eels this year. His go forward and ability to offload will provide the NSW halves with the room they need.
Tip: New South Wales by 10
Man of the match: James Tedesco
First try-scorer: Daniel Tupou
There’s been a lot of talk of NSW winning this series 3-0 and 40-0 score lines.
To me, NSW are deserved favourites but I’m not that bullish about their chances.
The same was said last year. While Game 2 was a blowout, it took until the 80th minute of game three for NSW to win the series.
You can make a convincing argument that despite the volume of debutantes that Queensland are better placed than last year and there’s a few in the Blues side not travelling as well.
The Queensland pack is in form and will go toe to toe with NSW and they’re halves stack up against ours.
The Maroons have a rookie three-quarter line. But NSW has two centres playing out of position and Daniel Tupou playing his first Origin series since he was dropped in 2015.
Plus there’s the Queensland underdog factor. Don’t laugh. I’ve seen enough unexpected victories from a so-called under-strength Queensland team to know it’s a thing.
Queensland has missed a trick for mine by not selecting Moeaki Fotuaika in their 17 ahead of players like Lindsay Collins or Coen Hess.
I think NSW will win but I don’t expect them to have it all their own way.
Tip: New South Wales by 13
Man of the match: Damien Cook
First try-scorer: Boyd Cordner
Well, Origin. There are plenty of unknowns in this series with so many rookies, but I reckon Queensland have missed a few tricks in their selection, and it could bite them.
Corey Allan is the in-form winger, but has somehow missed out to Phillip Sami, despite the fact Allan has played under the Origin coach all year.
Then there is the baffling decision to leave out Moeaki Fotuaika, while Coen Hess has also been picked in the second row. None of that makes sense to the outside observer, but then again, Wayne Bennett probably knows a lot more about rugby league than me.
I can’t see any game in this series being a big blowout, but I just don’t see Queensland having the power to go with the Blues, who will run all over them once the bench players are introduced.
Having Payne Haas and Cameron Murray on the bench speaks volumes of where the Blues are at, and if Junior Paulo and Daniel Saifiti can make the start required of them in the middle third, then it could be all downhill running for the Blues.
What is a worry for the New South Welshmen is the lack of actual centres playing in the centres. Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans are good enough to expose weaknesses, so with that being said, and neither team looking all that solid defensively, it could turn into a free-flowing, high-scoring and fast-paced game of rugby league. The six-again rule will only aid that.
Watch out for Luke Keary and Nathan Cleary to take over, combining nicely with Damien Cook who will take man of the match honours as the Blues roll to a one-nothing lead.
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Be sure to get your tips in on the form below by 6pm on Wednesday, and we will publish the results of the Crowd’s tips before kick-off.