It’s Origin time once again and Suncorp Stadium will be buzzing this Wednesday night in a crucial game 1 matchup. Despite home-field advantage in Brisbane, QLD will take the underdog tag into Game 1 as NSW are slight favourites as they look to build on last year’s series victory. All in all, this should be a cracking contest as always in the confines of Origin football.
Brad Fittler has been forced to make a few team changes for Game 1 after a successful 2018 campaign. Which does open up opportunities for the younger brigade or in Josh Morris’ case, a return to rep footy. He’ll be tasked with stopping a deadly left edge for QLD with the likes of Ponga and Munster running the ball. Nick Cotric makes his Origin debut on the wing and will have a tough matchup against Oates. Latrell Mitchell should enjoy an even better series this year with no Inglis in the QLD side. Damien Cook is back at Hooker and will be dangerous with Tedesco around the ruck. In the halves, Fittler has remained faithful by picking Nathan Cleary despite a fairly poor season thus far for Penrith. He’ll be joined by Cody Walker who’s been one of the reasons why the Rabbitohs are atop the NRL ladder. His five-eighth battle with Munster will be one to watch. The forward pack is much the same as last year with the two workhorses - Frizell and Trbojevic. Cordner captains the side once again. The NSW bench includes three new faces. Wighton gets his shot and provides great versatility. Payne Haas is built for Origin and Cameron Murray is a great selection.
QLD have named a strong squad for Game 1 and they should be confident playing as an underdog at Suncorp. An interesting factor will be Daly Cherry Evans as he hasn’t played in the NRL for a few weeks due to injury. So he may be a tad rusty to start this battle. Ponga is back at fullback and he’ll be a big key in QLD’s attacking moves along with Munster. The other outside backs see a lot of experience between the likes of Oates, Chambers, Morgan and Gagai. They’ll have their handsful with the likes of Mitchell and Tedesco, who both dominated in 2018. Ben Hunt will play out of position at Hooker and that does give QLD flexibility if injuries occur. Especially with Moses Mbye on the bench. The Maroons forward pack has some dangerous try scoring options with Kaufusi and Gillett. Jai Arrow gets the start after a nice Origin series last year. On the bench, Ofahengaue makes his debut in familiar surroundings at Suncorp and David Fijita gets his chance. Dylan Napa returns to the side and will bring experience off the bench.
Looking back to the 2018 series, NSW claimed the series after 2 games, but there wasn’t a large margin in all 3 games. So in 2019, you’d figure this will be another close game to start the series. QLD have enjoyed a wonderful record at Suncorp over the last decade. But obviously, the likes of Inglis, Smith, Cronk, Slater and JT have all retired. There’s also the missing x-factor of Valentine Holmes as he scored 4 of QLD’s 7 tries in 2018. Meanwhile, NSW have a few key players out with injury and the new halves pairing of Cleary/Walker may cause some issues if they don’t gel in the big moments. In the end, it’s hard to see either side winning via a blowout and the either team to win by under 10.5 points seems the best safe bet in Game 1. This bet went 3-0 in last season’s series and overall in the last 5 Origin games, it’s saluted in 4. The 3 games last year also averaged just a 6.66 points margin and NSW only outscored QLD by 8 points overall (52-44).
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