Fri, Jun 1, 2:00pm by Staff Writer
New South Wales and Queensland will lock horns for the 37th State of Origin series on Wednesday, with the Blues $1.54 favourites to win just their second series in 12 years.
Queensland are $2.50 outsiders, but will relish going into a series as underdogs and with nothing to lose.
Game one takes place at the MCG in Melbourne on Wednesday, with the Blues $1.58 favourites and the Maroons $2.45 at Sportsbet. The opening line is set at 4.5 points at $1.91 favouring New South Wales. With points typically hard to come by in Origin, the total points has been set at over/under 35.5 at $1.90, which is uncharacteristically high for an Origin opener.
Blues coach Brad Fittler named a youthful team on Monday, with 11 debutants featuring in his side. Captain Boyd Cordner and full back James Tedesco are among the survivors from a cull of Laurie Daley’s squad, with James Maloney and forward David Klemmer retaining their sports.
It is a new look back line for the Blues, with Melbourne flyer Josh Addo Carr on the wing, with Latrell Mitchell and livewire James Roberts in the centres.
Penrith prodigy Nathan Cleary will partner the experienced James Maloney in the halves, with the forward pack comprising of a number of St George Dragons players.
Damien Cook has been a relevation at hooker this season and deservedly takes the number nine jersey, with the likes of Reagan Campbell Gillard and Paul Vaughan making their Origin debuts.
The bench features the skillful Jake Trbojevic and jack-of-all trades Tyrone Peachey, in a side that all-in-all has been well received by fans and pundits alike.
It is a changing of the guard in 2018 for Queensland, as they will be without a trio of experienced players in Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Camerson Smith who have all stepped down from representative football.
Billy Slater announced on Tuesday that this will be his final Origin series, and with coach Kevin Walters electing not to select veterans Matt Scott and Darius Boyd, there are a number of new faces in the Queensland squad.
The halves pairing of Ben Hunt and Cameron Munster is untried at representative level, with Munster playing only one Origin game in 2017.
Greg Inglis will captain the Maroons for the first time, with Valentine Holmes and 2017 Wally Lewis medal winner Dane Gagai on the wings. Brisbane’s Andrew McCullough will play hooker, with an inexperienced forward pack at representative level.
Jarrod Wallace and Dylan Napa are the starting front rowers, with Jai arrow to come off the bench.
The one question mark, which hovers over Queensland, is how they will match up in the forwards, but they do have a number of young, hungry players in their pack that will surely be up to the test against New South Wales.
For the Blues, the concern for them is their backline. With the likes of Roberts, Addo Carr and Mitchell, coach Brad Fittler is hoping that his side will be more offensive than defensive, something which Origin is not renowned for.
Sportsbet State of Origin Odds
New South Wales $1.54 Queensland $2.50
Series Correct Score
New South Wales 3-0 $4.20
New South Wales 2-1 $2.25
Queensland 2-1 $3.20
Queensland 3-0 $12
New South Wales $1.58 Queensland $2.45
Handicap: -4.5 New South Wales $1.91
Total points: over/under 35.5 points $1.90
New South Wales winning margin 1-12 $2.80, 13+ $3.30
Queensland winning margin 1-12 $3.60, 13+ $7.50
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