Meninga enters enemy territory
The New South Wales Blues were met with a familiar foe at their captain's run on Tuesday morning with former Queensland coach Mal Meninga watching on from the sideline.
Meninga was the architect behind the Maroons' past decade of dominance and in his new role as the Kangaroos coach found himself a guest of Blues counterpart Laurie Daley at ANZ Stadium.
Meninga was quite forthcoming when discussing how crucial his presence was in terms of picking future Kangaroos teams.
James Tamou, Blake Ferguson, the injured Josh Dugan and Blues skipper Paul Gallen were the only New South Welshman named for Australia in the trans-Tasman Test against New Zealand earlier this month.
"My new role as the Australian coach saw me with a number of these players just recently so I'm here supporting them and whatever comes from it," Meninga said.
"The thing about Origin from my perspective is that these games do matter when it comes to selecting the Australian side. Success begets success, and if New South Wales are successful this year then they deserve more spots in the Australian team.
"That's where I sit on things really and going forward with Laurie picking a really good New South Wales team it holds the Kangaroos in really good stead."
Meninga was unsurprisingly relaxed when pressed on his expectations for Origin I on Wednesday night in what he called one of the NRL's showpieces.
"I'm expecting what everyone expects from Origin – a fantastic game," Meninga said.
"There's no favourites and whoever turns up ready to play and willing to play will be in a great spot to win the footy game."
As for Meninga's tip?
"A draw. Can it be a draw?" he laughed. "It'll have to be a draw then."