That time of the year is upon us where all sports fans regardless of whether they like Rugby League or not, will stop and pay attention to one of the greatest spectacles in sport – the State of Origin.
This year, the two sides are entering the battlefield in a way that has not been seen for many years. The Blues will be defending the Shield for this first time since 2006.
Once again both sides have selected very strong teams, which makes this encounter especially hard to pick.
Queensland has continued its yearly reports of players having “injury clouds” above their heads but whether they are as serious as mentioned is hard to tell. Billy Slater came down with the same shoulder injury that ruled him out of the Test match two weeks ago which is concerning for them, however the health of Greg Inglis could be more serious after he spent the weekend in a Gold Coast hospital before flying to Sydney with the team on Sunday afternoon.
At this stage, both players will take the field on Wednesday and it would take something very serious to rule these two players out as both have played through serious injuries for long periods of time at club and representative level.
New South Wales has picked a side that has no injury clouds and they shouldn’t have any issues with any of their players.
The majority of people believe the Blues have a stronger bench and this is true. Physically they are a lot bigger and stronger, but Queensland have utility Michael Morgan on the bench which gives them the extra speed advantage when the big Blues players are tiring.
Essentially, this match will come down to which bench fires. The early stages of the match should see both sides aiming up in defence and it will be played at a very fast pace that will see both sides big boys tire and take a rest as it nears the quarter of the game mark.
This is when both sides benches will come into play and the bench that executes the game plan more efficiently will take out this match. The Blues will be looking to overpower the Maroons whilst the Maroons will be looking to do the same back but at the same time use an extra man in Morgan around the ruck to find a lazy defender and take advantage.
For this reason Queensland should be able to be too strong for NSW. The majority of the Maroons side have played together for years now and the spine of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater should be superior in following the game plan. The form of Thurston and Slater leading into the match is at an extremely high level and the other players always seem to find a new level when it comes to Origin.
There is also a lot of questions surrounding the NSW side who, despite winning the Shield last year, have made a lot of changes to their side. Some of those were forced through superstar Jarryd Haynes exit, Brett Morris and Paul Gallen’s injury and Greg Bird’s suspension, however, Laurie Daley has still opted to leave out veteran Luke Lewis who has always performed well for his state.
>Cronk and Thurston are too of the most clutch players in the game and they can benefit from being able to name every player they wish because they don’t have any serious injuries. However, the NSW side isn’t as strong as it could be. It will still be strong but a little inexperienced.
This series will see each team receive one home game and one will be held in Melbourne. This gives a massive boost to QLD as it should be NSW hosting two out of the three games. Also, Queensland have a great record in Melbourne, which gives us the idea that QLD will race out and clinch the series by winning the first two games and will make it a clean sweep when they return home for the final game.
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