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At Big League, we do more than produce a highly entertaining, informative and interesting magazine for every round of the NRL (if I do say so myself).

We put together the official State of Origin programmes – the shiny, glossy beauties you see at Suncorp or ANZ – which means our interest in the game starts early and keeps peaking until we’re still talking about what happened during the 80 minutes long after the final whistle has blown.

Our office has even developed a competition to see who can name Laurie Daley’s NSW team for Game One before it’s announced (the Queensland team is too easy). Shout out to Big League journo Ben Lonergan who won again in 2017.

The point of all this gibbering is I’m very, very serious about Origin.

I’ve seen plenty of comments lamenting selections for NSW, like we hear on a loop every year. But for the first time in a long time, I can see the point of every selection and think it’s a pretty dynamite side.

There was no way Laurie could ignore the form of Mitchell Pearce. I’ve written maybe thousands (give or take) of stories on the Roosters halfback over the years – he’s always a great interview – and I feel the past couple of seasons his maturity levels have skyrocketed and he clearly has belief in the power of his skills to change the course of a game.

On the flipside, I was absolutely stunned the Maroons left Billy Slater out of their team. I had already whipped up a ‘Gamebreaker’ page for the legendary fullback, fully convinced he would slot straight back into the side. It’s going to be weird watching a series knowing Slater is available but isn’t on the field!

There’s still plenty of drama to unfold over the week and I’m psyched to sit back and watch it all unfold.

May the best team win!

And another thing… There has been an interesting phenomenon on my Twitter lately where fans I follow have shown their disappointment in the Origin series beginning because their clubs are affected.

I don’t get this at all because 1) Origin is better than Christmas and 2) Clubs with huge representations can go on to win the premiership anyway – hello Sharks, Storm and Cowboys. It usually shows how good a team is when they have so many rep players, doesn’t it?

Admittedly, NRL games can become peculiar beasts with debutants coming out of the woodwork on weekends with limited games. But, if you want to see the positive in everything – which I do, people – it means all those blokes on the fringes of first grade that you’re constantly hearing and reading about are live in the flesh, giving you the opportunity to rate them with your own eyes.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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