The highly anticipated 2021 State of Origin series is upon us! Game 1 will be played from Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville on Wedensday night and our Rugby League expert Greg Davis is here to give you his full preview and betting tips for the clash.
Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville, Wednesday 9th June, 8.10pm (AEST)
QLD: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Xavier Coates 3. Kurt Capewell 4. Dane Gagai 5. Kyle Feldt 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Christian Welch 9. Harry Grant 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. David Fifita 13. Jai Arrow. Interchange: 14. AJ Brimson 15. Jaydn Su’A 16. Moeaki Fotuaika 17. Coen Hess 18. Ben Hunt
NSW: 1. James Tedesco 2. Brian To’o 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Tom Trbojevic 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Jake Trbojevic 11. Cameron Murray 12. Tariq Sims 13. Isaah Yeo. Interchange: 14. Jack Wighton 15. Junior Paulo 16. Payne Haas 17. Liam Martin 18. Api Koroisau 19. Campbell Graham 20. Keaon Koloamatangi
AS legendary rugby league commentator Ray Warren once told this humble scribe with regards to State of Origin and the ability of people to remain impartial, ‘’the only person who can be objective is the bloke who lives on a houseboat in the middle of the Tweed River”.
Rugby league’s glorious season showpiece is back where it belongs in the middle of the year after COVID pushed the interstate series back to after the NRL grand final in 2020.
Also returning is Queensland’s tradition of having players under injury, illness and/or suspension clouds and NSW being installed as short-priced favourites after picking a team full of fullbacks.
Origin. It’s just different. It’s the best three games of the year because they mean so much more.
Punting on the footy is always best when decisions are made by the head and not the heart. But with Origin, that’s near impossible.
Just ask Rabs.
As we’ve been unable to contact that bloke on the houseboat in the middle of the Tweed River that acts as the border between the states, we’ll do our best.
The Maroons – and the famous North Queensland nightclub Mad Cow - will get a boost from the series opener being shifted from the MCG to Townsville due to the COVID lockdown in Victoria.
The whole rugby league-mad city will be pulsating in the build-up to the clash at Johnathan Thurston Stadium (officially known as Queensland Country Bank Stadium but it wouldn’t have been built without the great man’s public push) and the atmosphere will be absolutely electric at kick-off.
While the Maroons will be feeling 10 foot tall and bullet-proof, the Blues will also be fortified by a siege mentality. So it will be close, really close.
Both teams have powerful packs, clever playmakers and speed and skill to burn out wide. It’s the best of the best.
Most head-to-head betting markets have the Blues around the $1.50 mark with the home side at $2.50 or thereabouts.
It should be even money with one play, a bounce of the ball or a penalty possibly being the sole difference on the night.
The Maroons have covered the line in six of their last eight matches so the 4.5 points to the good for Queensland is worth a good look.
A vast majority of the series openers in the past decade have seen the teams combine for a total points tally that goes under the line set by bookies. The line for this encounter has been set at 42.5 points. The high tackle interpretation and the six again rules could have a say in that, but defensive starch is not lacking in these star-studded line-ups.
The Blues have picked fullbacks in the centres again but Tom Trbojovic and Latrell Mitchell are bona fide superstars and probably won’t get exposed defensively. Trbojovic has been in scintillating form since returning from injury, almost single-handedly reviving Manly.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see him cross the white stripe first as he has made a career of being in the right place, at the right time, all the time.
Maroons fullback Valentine Holmes has scored nine tries in seven games for Queensland, failing to cross for a four-pointer in just the one outing for his state so a ‘try any time’ wager on the Cowboys custodian at his home ground is not all that silly.
If Queensland do win, expect five-eighth Cameron Munster to be at the forefront and collect another man-of-the-match gong. If the Blues triumph, halfback Nathan Clearly would have had a major role in the victory.
State of Origin Game 1 Prop Bets
Total Match Points - Under 42.5 points ($1.90 Sportsbet)
First Try - Tom Trbojevic ($13 at Sportsbet)
Try Anytime - Josh Addo-Carr or Valentine Holmes ($3.00 at BlueBet)
Man-of-the-Match - Cameron Munster ($8 at Sportsbet
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