Reduced interchange key for Origin: Smith
Queensland captain Cameron Smith believes the reduced interchange introduced in the NRL this year will only benefit State of Origin later this season.
Considering the high intensity the three annual games are already played at Smith highlighted the instances where the pace of the game will increase at the series launch on Monday.
Though how evenly matched both states already are Smith believes each team's missed opportunities will carry far greater consequences.
"I think we have seen the effects on the NRL already with the reduced interchange. You can see the consequences of missed tackles more now with there being a few more line breaks through the middles of teams," Smith said.
"I guess that can only be magnified in State of Origin given it's played at such a fast pace and how physical the game is. You know though the forward pack we have had over the past few years are quite mobile and fit and the teams are quite evenly matched.
"You look over the past few series there's not much separating the teams so we'll have to play it out as it comes."
Queensland coach Kevin Walters labelled the potential pace increase in Origin as "scary".
"Both teams, I think after 10 rounds in the NRL, most players would adjust a lot better to what they have at the moment. But Origin is such an exhausting game," Walters said.
"With the speed and the pace of Origin, there'll be even more scoring opportunities as such. And that's what you want to see too from a fan point of view, which is what Origin is about at the end of the day, the passion of the fans.
"For a player like Michael Morgan to come [off the bench] and really, not so much open the game up, but find some spaces there that he wouldn't normally find at that level it's going to be very exciting for both teams."
Smith also backed whoever may fill Queensland's utility bench spot – expected to be Morgan – as a potential x-factor, considering again the reduction of interchanges.
"[Bench utilities are] quite valuable, most teams are running with a utility on the bench these days. We have had that philosophy for a long time now where we have run with a smaller guy on the bench," Smith said.
"Michael Morgan has been fantastic over the last couple of seasons where he's been involved with our squad. Now there is a reduced interchange, those smaller guys might be the ones that break the game wide open."