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It's not only the fans who are looking forward to watching a State of Origin match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground again this June - the players and coaches are just as excited.

In 2015, the last time Origin was played at the MCG, a record 91,513 turned out in equal numbers to support Queensland and New South Wales for game two of that series.

Queensland captain Cameron Smith, who also skippers the Australian team, says the hallowed turf rates highly for its history and atmosphere, comparing well with England's great football stadiums.

It's also the perfect place to launch another eagerly awaited Origin series as Queensland look to repeat their 2-1 series win from 2017.

"I've been fortunate to play at some brilliant grounds - Wembley, Old Trafford, some wonderful venues with great history, but I don't think it gets better than the MCG," he said.

Smith points to the success of other big rugby league matches held in Melbourne in recent years - such as Tests, World Cup and Origin - as another way for the sport to increase a footprint in Victoria.

"I always say when we bring the matches down here - you've got to congratulate the NRL and Victorian government to do that.

"Everytime we play a big match, like an Origin or a Test match, World Cup games, it just invites more people to watch the spectacle of rugby league.

Queensland captain Cameron Smith.
Queensland captain Cameron Smith. ©Jeff Crow/NRL Photos

"From where it was when I first started my career, from 2002 to now, there's so much more awareness of game (in Melbourne)."

Blues skipper Boyd Coydner was on the bench in 2015 and helped NSW to a 26-18 win.

He remembers a unique atmosphere that only 100,000 fans can provide.

"It was an amazing experience to come down here in 2015, to play at such a historic ground, and to run out in front of 90,000-plus fans is something pretty special. It definitely ranks up there with one of the highlights of my career," he said.

There's something about the sheer size of the stadium that can be confronting to players, as NSW coach Brad Fittler remembers about his playing days.

"It's more the walking out to the ground and the enormity of the place," he said.

"Driving up to the MCG is one of those unforgettable sights of how big the stadium is.

"I think it's our job to take our game and showcase it wherever we can. This is the best place to do it."

There was a distinct lack of verbal barbs traded between the sides last year, in what was a far cry from recent campaigns where chief instigator Paul Gallen regularly threw some verbal volleys in the lead-up to a series.

Smith noticed the quieter atmosphere but says there's still an intense rivalry between the Maroons and Blues.

Holden State of Origin promotion

"There wasn't a lot of talk coming from the Blues camp last year because Gal wasn't there," he said.

"Obviously now, Boyd Cordner's the captain and is quite a softly spoken personality so it may miss that a little bit.

"Throughout the week, there might not be as much trash thrown over the fence to the opposition side, but come game time; there's a strong rivalry between the two states.

"Do we hate each other when we pull on those colours? Yeah we do. We want to go out there and do as best we can to inflict pain on the opposition. We do that to the Blues, and they do it to us."

Witness Australia’s greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday June 6. Tickets available at

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