New Blues coach Brad Fittler eyes his Queensland counterpart Kevin Walters. Picture: Adam Head
New Blues coach Brad Fittler eyes his Queensland counterpart Kevin Walters. Picture: Adam Head

Everything you need about State of Origin

THE fiercest rivalry in Australian sport enters a bold new era as new-look NSW and Queensland sides engage in this year's Origin series.

A Blues outfit featuring 11 debutants - and a new coach in Brad Fittler - takes on a Maroons line-up that doesn't include Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston or Cooper Cronk for the first time since 2003.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Wednesday night's opener in Melbourne.

SERIES

The brutal three game series gets underway in neutral territory when the two sides line-up at the MCG on Wednesday evening.

It will mark the fifth time an Origin game has taken place at the MCG with NSW winning the past encounter 26-18 and taking their advantage at the ground to 3-1.

Origin I: 8pm (AEST) on Wednesday June 6, MCG

The series will then shift back to NSW for the second clash where, despite being in enemy territory, Queensland have won two of the past three encounters.

Origin II: 7.40pm on Sunday June 24, ANZ Stadium

Fans will then be hoping the third and final contest isn't a dead-rubber and the series goes down to the wire when the teams line-up in front of a raucous Queensland crowd.

Origin III: 8pm on Wednesday July 11, Suncorp Stadium

TEAMS

Dane Gagai sent a scare through the QLD camp during the final session.
Dane Gagai sent a scare through the QLD camp during the final session.

Dane Gagai's injury scare during the Maroons' final training session almost left the side in crisis mode, thankfully he was cleared and is expected to take his place on the bench.

Billy Slater's fullback replacement was named with North Queensland Cowboys' Michael Morgan being handed the role.

The Blues haven't faced any last minute dilemmas like their rivals have, however whispers are still floating around with a potential last minute line-up change looming.

NSW Blues starters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Josh Addo-Carr 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. James Roberts 5. Tom Trbojevic 6. James Maloney 7. Nathan Cleary 8. David Klemmer 9. Damien Cook 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Tyson Frizell 13. Jack de Belin

Bench: 14. Paul Vaughan 15. Jake Trbojevic 16. Angus Crichton 17. Tyrone Peachey

QLD Maroons starters: 1. Michael Morgan 2. Valentine Holmes 3. Greg Inglis (c) 4. Will Chambers 5. Dane Gagai 6. Cameron Munster 7. Ben Hunt 8. Dylan Napa 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Jarrod Wallace 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Felise Kaufusi 13. Josh McGuire

Bench: 14. Anthony Milford 15. Coen Hess 16. Josh Papalii 17. Jai Arrow

 

ODDS (courtesy of Ladbrokes)

The amount of markets for the State of Origin ensure every angle is covered with everything from first try scorer to most tackles listed.

Of course what everyone is really looking for however is who will walk away with the chocolates and take the early series lead.

Thanks to the loss of several Queensland superstars, NSW enter the opening game as the red hot favourites with the Maroons sitting at their longest ever odds entering an Origin clash.

NSW Blues: $1.42

QLD Maroons: $3.00

Origin captain Greg Inglis and Boyd Cordner. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Origin captain Greg Inglis and Boyd Cordner. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

WHAT TO WATCH

For the first time since 2003, Queensland will be without stalwart Cameron Smith. The Maroons will be without 130 games of experience with no Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater.

Origin's leading tryscorer Greg Inglis has been handed the captaincy and will look to lead the Maroons into a new phase.

Boyd Cordner faced heavy criticism from legend of the game Phil Gould who called for him to be dropped as captain. Despite the criticism, Cordner has retained the captaincy for the Blues.

No player listed for the Blues has ever enjoyed Origin success with their last win coming in 2014, they'll field the most inexperienced NSW side with only 39 games of Origin experience.

LAST SEASON

After dominating the opening game of the 2017 series on the road, NSW fell to a resurgent QLD side who escaped with a narrow victory in the second contest before running away with the series in the third and final clash.

Origin I: NSW Blues 28 defeated QLD Maroons 4

Origin II: QLD Maroons 18 defeated NSW Blues 16

Origin III: QLD Maroons 22 defeated NSW Blues 6

The series win made it number 21 for the Maroons with the Blues sitting on 13 overall series wins. There have been two draws during the history of Origin.


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