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Every State of Origin pundit has declared in the lead up to Game Two in Brisbane, that this one will be different. Put aside the Blues good start in Sydney, and the Maroons struggles to keep up early in the game. Put aside all the off-field issues plaguing the beginning of both camps, and the changes made by both sides. This one will be different, because this game is at The Cauldron.
New South Wales will enter this game with maximum confidence. For the first time in five years they were successful in the opener, and will feel they have the mental edge of the supposedly unmotivated Queensland. But history is far from on their side.
The Blues have entered Brisbane with a 1-0 series lead on seven different occasions. Just once have they returned to Sydney with the series sealed, and that was in the infamous 2000 season where Origin was supposedly ‘dead’ after a Blues 3-0 clean sweep. It was also, almost poetically, the final Origin game to be played at the old Lang Park. It underwent a revamp following that series, with games played at QEII Stadium (then ANZ Stadium) in the 2001-02 series’, before returning in 2003.
But what is it about Brisbane that seems to spook the Blues so much when they win game one? The last time two times NSW took a 1-0 lead into Brisbane, they were with rookie Origin coaches. In 2006 Graham Murray led the Blues to Brisbane after a Brett Finch field goal separated them in Sydney, Adam Mogg and the Queenslanders ambushed NSW 30-6, before sealing the series in Melbourne. In 2008, Craig Bellamy ushered in what everyone hoped was a new era with a comfortable 18-10 win in Sydney, before once again things went ary at Suncorp, this time losing 30-0.
Victory at Suncorp has also been the key to NSW series victories for the length of Origin football. Of their 12 series wins, only three times have they won a series without victory in Brisbane. The last time that happened, in 2004, it took a return from retirement by Brad Fittler for NSW to win, while in 1990 the series was sealed in Origin’s first venture to Melbourne before the Brisbane game.
So once again NSW will go to Suncorp with a 1-0 lead and a rookie coach, having not been successful in a live Brisbane game since 2005. But records are meant to be broken right?
Jim Beam Smooth Move of the Week
He’s long been seen as the heir apparent to Anthony Minichiello, and Friday night proved that Roger Tuivasa-Sheck really is a star of the future. It started with a cut-out flick pass by SBW, hitting Tuivasa-Sheck on the chest. He then precedes downfield, beating three players clean with silky footwork, before flicking his own pass out to send Shaun Kenny-Dowall over for the sealer.