State of Origin I - NRL.com tips
The team at NRL.com and celebrity guests give their views on Holden State of Origin Game One. Who will win at ANZ Stadium and take a 1-0 series lead?
Andrew Voss, Fox Sports
As I wrote last week on NRL.com, Aaron Woods needs to step up here for the Blues now that he has the experience of a couple of series under his belt. The Blues need Woods to produce similar numbers to what he does week in, week out for the Tigers.
For Queensland, it's Johnathan Thurtson who was disappointing in the opening two games of last year. He has been in red hot form for the Cowboys this season. Look out NSW if he produces an effort like that Wednesday night.
If there could be such a thing as a neutral observer at Origin time, you again have the chance just to savour what is a great rugby league line-up representing Queensland. Slater, Hodges, Inglis, Thurston, Cronk, Smith, Scott, Boyd, Parker, Thaiday…
There is some serious talent in that lot, and while I believe NSW has picked a strong side, I reckon there is still a series win or two left in this Queensland team before some of those modern day greats call it quits. Maroons to win 18-6. Man of the match: Corey Parker. First try scorer: Darius Boyd.
Brendon Cowell, Director/Writer, Ruben Guthrie
NSW will win because they've now realised they can. They're not scared of the Maroon myth anymore and they know youth and virility is on their side. NSW will belt Queensland in the middle, especially in the second half when Thaiday and Myles get tired. In saying that, it's our 6 and 7 that need to put on a show - this comes from not being afraid of their opposite numbers.
State of Origin is special because both sides of the border truly believe the other side of the border is a revolting place to live. Queenslanders think we are all soft down here in Sydney, whereas NSW know that Queenslanders are all bogans who speak funny because of all the XXXX. Blues to win 18-8.
Tony Webeck, NRL.com
There was a message sent in Game Three last year that the Maroons are desperate to back up in Game One of the 2015 series. Yes, it is an intimidating Blues forward pack, but Queensland have shown time and again you need more than brute force to get the better of them. Nate Myles and Matt Scott will protect the middle of the field as though their lives depend on it while the genius of Smith, Thurston and Cronk will outwit their opponents from the south. There is life in the old boys yet and despite their poor record at ANZ Stadium expect them to prove it. Origin matches are not won with expansive set pieces but desperate efforts in defence and clutch plays in attack and there are simply too many Queenslanders capable of producing at key moments for the Blues to get the better of them. Maroons by 8.
Chris Kennedy, NRL.com
Laurie Daley has shown he is the perfect blend of hyper-competitive perfectionist and calming influence the Blues needed. He has left no stone unturned in his preparation both last year and this year. Daley has shown he is not afraid to make the tough selection calls on the incumbents, he has made the players who are involved feel welcomed and comfortable in their roles, and he has picked teams according to the game plan he wants to play.
We know what to expect from Queensland but the key will be if the Blues halves can lift to their level, and if the Blues bench can outmuscle and out-enthuse their counterparts in that crucial period before and after half-time and in the final 10 minutes of the match when everyone's petrol tanks are running on empty. Blues by 4.
Matt Elliott, ABC Grandstand
I think Queensland will win Game I, firstly because that's where I come from, and secondly due to the fact they have a more settled line up with all key players in good form.
Beau Scott, with his ability to shut down Johnathan Thurston as he has done in Origin and club footy will be crucial for NSW, along with the benches of both teams who come on at times when the other team is vulnerable.
State of Origin is an awesome event. The quality of football along with the emotional investment from player through to fans makes the entire experience a blast. The NSW v Queensland rivalry is healthy, particularly when NSW admit to being slightly inferior to the Maroons. Maroons by 8.
Chris Wang, NRL.com
Some say State of Origin games are won in defence or by the forwards. For me, a perfect kicking game is most important in Origin. Queensland have Cronk, Thurston and Smith who can all produce pin-point kicks and turn the Blues around. NSW's halves Hodkinson and Pearce must kick to space and also create tries or force line drop-outs when in attacking positions. I'll admit to deriding Pearce during Queensland's eight straight, but he has recently been in great form for the Roosters and fully deserves his spot for NSW. If he and Hodkinson can settle well, NSW are a big chance. Blues by 6.
Jack Brady, NRL.com
I honestly think Laurie Daley picked up a bit of stage fright from Australia's shock loss to the Kiwis. Accelerating his youth policy sooner than it needed to happen may be a downfall, and I believe Luke Lewis's omission was an average decision. Queensland's loyalty shines through again when you look at both teams on paper and the Maroons will be hungry to avenge last year. Maroons by 10.
Paige Hadley, NSW Swifts
I absolutely love the rivalry between NSW and Queensland. It's always intense - just like in netball, playing for your state with pride. State of Origin is a special sporting series to be a part of with so much history and success. NSW will win, coming off a triumph in last year's series and having home ground advantage in game one. It will be a classic Origin match, going down to the final siren. Blues by 2.
Dom Brock, NRL.com
The Blues' monster props are obviously their strength and if it's a low-scoring forwards battle then they're in with a good chance, but if all the Maroons playmakers stay fit they should get the job done. They were missing Cooper Cronk for Game Two and most of Game One last year, and the quartet of Cronk, Thurston, Smith and Slater is clearly a better spine than the Blues'. Maroons by 8.
Adrian McMurray, NRL.com
With scores locked at 12-all with three minutes remaining, Jarryd Hayne leaps onto the field from the crowd, pulls on a Blues jersey, and scores the match-winning try. Cue delirious scenes around ANZ Stadium.
On a more serious note, I can see this NSW side lifting to fill the void left by Paul Gallen and Greg Bird, with young props Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita to lead from the front, and Josh Dugan to star at fullback. Blues by 4.
Andy Bryan, NRL.com
The ongoing history, rivalry and tradition of State of Origin is unmatched. Every game adds a new layer to the rich tapestry which is Australia's greatest rivalry. Origin is sport at its most primal. It is tribal. It transcends rugby league and sport itself. It has an ability to draw in fans and audiences that would not normally watch sport, and that is what makes Orign so great.
Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston will again be the architect and destroyer for Queensland. There is no coincidence that Australia has been beaten three times in a row without either Johnathan Thurston or Billy Slater in the line-ups. Both will be looking to make a statement in the representative arena and after losing the 2014 series, these two could well put on a clinic to start the series. For NSW, the game plan is pretty straight forward. Big forwards muscling up and not giving the Queensland outside backs any time on the ball. That means Beau Scott and Aaron Woods controlling the middle and the big forwards maximising their minutes and not letting up. It is up to Trent Hodkinson to control the tempo of the game and the field position. Maroons by 10. Man of the Match: Johnathan Thurston.