Tue, Jun 5, 10:55am by Staff Writer
Date and Time: Wednesday June 6, 8pm AEST
TV: Channel 9
The 2018 State of Origin kicks off in Melbourne on Wednesday night at the MCG, with New South Wales $1.50 favourites to win again one against the Maroons who are $2.70.
In late selection drama, it was announced on Monday afternoon that Maroons veteran full back Billy Slater is out of game one with a hamstring injury.
He will be replaced by either Brisbane’s Anthony Milford and young gun Kayln Ponga from the Newcastle Knights.
Coach Kevin Walters has opted against drafting in snubbed veteran Darius Boyd to fill the role, opting for a youthful changing of the guard for this series.
Both teams are fielding relatively inexperienced sides, with New South Wales coach Brad Fittler selected 11 debutants.
That includes a relatively inexperienced backline, with Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts and Nathan Cleary all playing their first Origin game.
Tom Trbojevic will occupy one of the wing positions, as James Tedesco will play in the full back position.
The Blues forward pack is made up of a number of big-bodied, hard-hitting players who have been in tremendous form for their NRL clubs.
With the omission of Slater, the Maroons are also fielding a side light on experience, with Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk all having retired from Origin before this campaign.
A new halves pairing of Cameron Munster and Ben Hunt will look to steer the Queenslanders around the park, with a backline that is filled with tremendous representative experience, even with Slater missing.
Dane Gagai was the 2017 Wally Lewis medalist, awarded to the most outstanding player during the Origin series.
He is joined by new Maroons captain Greg Inglis, as well as Australian winger Valentine Holmes and centre Will Chambers.
The Maroons will be able to more than hold their own in the forwards, with Andrew McCullough playing the role of hooker after Smith’s retirement.
The bench includes North Queensland Cowboys utility Michael Morgan, who will be able to provide a spark wherever he plays on Wednesday night.
The Blues mantra going into this series has been to score points and they have picked an offensively-minded team.
The total match points opened at 35.5 and has dropped to 34.5 at $1.90 at Sportsbet, with no rain forecast on Wednesday evening.
In the margin market New South Wales has been heavily favoured. A Blues win by 1-12 is paying $2.88 while a 13+ victory is $3.
The Maroons are $3.75 to win by 1-12 and a huge $8 for a big victory by 13+.
The first tryscorer market is dominated by Blues players, with Josh Addo-Carr the favourite at $10, with teammates Tom Trbojevic ($11), Latrell Mitchell ($12), James Roberts ($12) and James Tedesco ($12) some of the other contenders.
For the Maroons, Valentine Holmes ($12) and Dane Gagai ($13) are favourites to score the first try.
The man of the match market is hard to pick, with Nathan Cleary and James Tedesco both favourites at $9. For Queensland, Cameron Munster ($11) and Ben Hunt ($13) lead the betting.
The Blues are $1.45 favourites to win this Origin series, which would be only their second win in 12 years. Queensland are $2.75 outsiders.
The New South Wales 3-0 sweep is $4 at Sportsbet, with the Blues to win 2-1 the most popular option at $2.30.
Suggested Bet: Queensland by 1-12 points: $3.75
Sportsbet State of Origin Odds
New South Wales $1.50 Queensland $2.70
Handicap: New South Wales -5.5 $1.90
Margin: NSW 1-12 $2.88, 13+ $3
Margin QLD 1-12 $3.75, 13+ $8
First Try Scorer
Josh Addo-Carr $10
Tom Trbojevic $11
Latrell Mitchell $12
James Roberts $12
James Tedesco $12
Valentine Holmes $12
Dane Gagai $12
Man of the Match
Nathan Cleary $9
James Tedesco $9
James Maloney $10
Cameron Munster $11
Damien Cook $13
Ben Hunt $13
New South Wales $1.45 Queensland $2.75
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