State of Origin. There is no more important time on the rugby league calendar and none more exciting for league fans up and down the east coast of our great nation. We’ve all been raised on it. Queenslanders have been raised on the fabricated history and the manufactured outrage of a non-existent wrongdoing. New South Welshman were raised on the storied weekend rivalries of our great clubs, as well as the excitement of the Origin rivalry itself. Maybe that's the difference; Origin came second for Sydney-siders whilst for the banana benders, there is nothing else.
Understandable too. The cane toads could hardly get excited about Wynnum Manly v Brisbane Brothers, so they cannot possibly understand how important our history is. Parramatta v Canterbury, Saints v Souths, Manly v Wests. Well, not anymore. The Blues can't afford to think about anything other than winning this series. There are little boys and girls out there who've never seen NSW win. They'll think this is normal and be scared away from their birth-right as Blues fans - to hate Queenslanders more than they hate us.
For all you parents out there; don't let this happen. To Laurie Daley, don't let this happen. To Paul Gallen and your mighty forward pack, don't let this happen. To all proud Blues fans; don't let it happen. This group of Queenslanders are vain and lack respect for their opposition and therefore the game. It's time they are taught a lesson and if it’s this group of brave New South Welshman who are to teach them, it will be Robbie Farah, Mitchell Pearce and Jarryd Hayne who lead the way and turn their dreams into a reality.
So, if you can forgive the above emotional explosion borne from of 7 years of suffering, let’s move on. Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium will have 80,000 Blues fans praying for it, pining for it and desperate for revenge. This year’s opener will start at a frantic pace and when she settles down at the 20 minute mark, the Blues’ spine must shift into a higher gear. Then, as with nearly every Origin we’ve seen in recent times, the last 20 minutes will require yet another gear from NSW. If they have it, the visitors, despite all their experience, future immortality and confidence, will not have an answer.
My tip: NSW 14-12
Man of the Match tip: Robbie Farah
New South Wales Blues: 1. Jarryd Hayne (Eels) 2. Brett Morris (Dragons) 3. Michael Jennings (Roosters) 4. Josh Morris (Bulldogs) 5. Blake Ferguson (Raiders) 6. James Maloney (Roosters) 7. Mitchell Pearce (Roosters) 8. Paul Gallen (Sharks) 9. Robbie Farah (Tigers) 10. James Tamou (Cowboys) 11. Ryan Hoffman (Storm) 12. Luke Lewis (Sharks) 13. Greg Bird (Titans)
Interchange: 14. Andrew Fifita (Sharks) 15. Trent Merrin (Dragons) 16. Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles) 17. Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs)
Queensland Maroons: 1. Billy Slater (Storm) 2. Darius Boyd (Knights) 3. Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs) 4. Justin Hodges (Broncos) 5. Brent Tate (Cowboys) 6. Johnathan Thurston (Cowboys) 7. Cooper Cronk (Storm) 8. Matthew Scott (Cowboys) 9. Cameron Smith (Storm) 10. David Shillington (Raiders) 11. Nate Myles (Titans) 12. Sam Thaiday (Broncos) 13. Ashley Harrison (Titans)