State of Origin - game one

Game preview

It's game one of the 2024 Origin Series, and a brand new NSW coach has made sweeping changes. Some bold. Some forced. Some controversial. Perhaps the most controversial of all has been changed back again, with Tedesco replacing the injured Edwards at fullback. Tedesco has been the NSW captain since game two of 2020, so it was quite the demotion for a player that wasn't injured and was in good form. He didn't deserve to be dropped, but Edwards also deserved to be selected. A difficult circumstance sure, but handled with typical NSW clunkiness, as is their way when it comes to the selection process. The changes don't end there, with a new code-swapping centre making his debut (Sua'ali'i). A great experience for Sua'ali'i, which will help ready him for the prospect of playing to a much smaller crowd and a dwarfed television audience when the NSW wallatahs square off against the QLD dirty reds in the rugby union version of same. Other new additions include Lomax on the wing (a position he may or may not love playing, depending on the vibe on any given day), a new halves combination which the new coach found in a disount bin at his local Salvation Army store, and Cameron McInnes at lock (a bloke that would have already played a dozen Origin games by now if he was born north of, I dunno, about Lismore. The bench is interesting, with four big boppers. It's an imposing bench, and it does give NSW an edge in the forwards I'm sure. If NSW win this game, they win it through the middle. Nothing pretty, nothing flash...just big blokes tucking and ploughing their way to win. It can absolutely work, particularly with Payne Haas at the pointy end wreaking havoc. It's a solid enough strategy and a pillar of the game itself, but I do wonder what the coach is going to do if one of his backs does a hamstring (and we're seeing a lot of that) or takes a head knock (and we're seeing a lot of that). Which one of those second-rowers is going to fill in at centre, and how will they keep up when some of the fastest footballers in the game (Tabuai-Fidow, Holmes, Walsh) find space? The answer, of course, is they won't. While this preview reads like I'm relying on an unfortunate injury to get Queensland over the line, it's not as ludicrous as it might seem. In recent Origins, teams have lost outside backs. This NRL season, seemingly more than ever before, outside backs are getting injured. It's an emerging but hopefully temporary trend in the game, and the QLD coach has already added a contingency for it. QLD look light on for forwards this season, but have included Cobbo on the interchange anyway. Any of Cobbo, Holmes, Tabuai-Fidow can play at centre, wing or fullback. Versatility is where QLD have a clear advantage in game one. Finally, I need to mention the debut of J'maine Hopgood for two reasons. Firstly, I've had him pencilled in as an Origin player since forever, so it's nice to be finally right (for once). Secondly, Hopgood lost his father when he was far too young, when he died after playing a game of rugby league. Mixed emotions for Hopgood and his family as he makes his debut on Wednesday night, and I hope he has a blinder out there. 

Verdict - QLD 26 to defeated NSW 18

Predicted first try scorer - Angus Crichton

Predicted player of the match - Tom Deardon

Result - QLD 38 defeated NSW 10

First try scorer - Ben Hunt

Player of the match - Daly Cherry-Evans

Game details

Date: Wednesday 5th June 2024

Time: 8.05pm kick-off

Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney

Team list - New South Wales Blues

  1. James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters)
  2. Brian To'o (Penrith Panthers)
  3. Stephen Crichton (Canterbury Bulldogs)
  4. Joseph-Aukuso Sua'ali'i (Sydney Roosters)
  5. Zac Lomax (St George Illawarra Dragons)
  6. Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers)
  7. Nicholas Hynes (Cronulla Sharks)
  8. Jake Trbojevic (c) (Manly Sea Eagles)
  9. Reece Robson (North Queensland Cowboys)
  10. Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos)
  11. Liam Martin (Penrith Panthers)
  12. Angus Crichton (Sydney Roosters)
  13. Cameron McInnes (Cronulla Sharks)
  14. Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers)
  15. Haumole Olakau'atu (Manly Sea Eagles)
  16. Spencer Leniu (Sydney Roosters)
  17. Hudson Young (Canberra Raiders)

Team list - Queensland Maroons

  1. Reece Walsh (Brisbane Broncos)
  2. Xavier Coates (Melbourne Storm)
  3. Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys)
  4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (Redcliffe Dolphins)
  5. Murray Taulagi (North Queensland Cowboys)
  6. Tom Deardon (North Queensland Cowboys)
  7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c) (Manly Sea Eagles)
  8. Reuben Cotter (North Queensland Cowboys)
  9. Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra)
  10. Lindsay Collins (Sydney Roosters)
  11. Jaydn S'uA (St George Illawarra Dragons)
  12. Jeremiah Nanai (North Queensland Cowboys)
  13. Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos)
  14. Harry Grant (Melbourne Storm)
  15. Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans)
  16. J'maine Hopgood (Parramatta Eels)
  17. Selwyn Cobbo (Brisbane Broncos)


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