For the first time since he represented NSW almost two decades ago, Anthony Mundine feels he can finally support the Blues again and has thanked Brad Fittler for deciding to "fight fire with fire" by selecting four Indigenous stars.
Mundine, who played three Origins in 1999, said he hadn't supported NSW since because of the lack of faith shown towards players such as Nathan Blacklock, David Peachey and Nathan Merritt but is now urging the state's Koori population to get behind the Blues in next Wednesday's season opener after the selection of James Roberts, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Tyrone Peachey.
"I just couldn't go for them but now that this change has come I am all for the Blues," Mundine said.
"Now I want the Blues to win and I'm sure most blackfellas will be like me because they have the same mindset as me.
"I haven't backed NSW since I played for them because they kept overlooking those Indigenous boys who should have been there and every year, until this year, most blackfellas I talk to barrack for Queensland because of that, but I am sure that will turn around now."
A belief that Indigenous players were more likely to play Origin for Queensland than NSW is widely attributed to Bowraville-born Greg Inglis's decision to turn his back on the Blues and many Kooris support the Maroons because of him.
After his selection, Mitchell - who is also from the NSW North Coast - has encouraged them as well to switch allegiances to the Blues.
"Obviously, I just want the NSW mob to go for NSW now and stop going for Queensland," Mitchell told NRL.com. "I just want them to change their mentality.
"You are from NSW so go for NSW. It is exciting and I reckon we are going to get that many people behind us now."
Mundine believes it is no coincidence Queensland have dominated the Holden State of Origin series since 2006 because they have boasted a greater Indigenous representation than NSW until last year's second game when NSW fielded a record five Indigenous players - Wade Graham, Andrew Fifita, Blake Ferguson, Jack Bird and Nathan Peats.
With Mitchell and Addo-Carr playing opposite Queensland's left side centre-wing pairing of Will Chambers and Dane Gagai, and Roberts marking Maroons captain Greg Inglis, Mundine said the teams were now evenly balanced.
"We are back in the game, baby. Big time," Mundine said. "I reckon NSW will take out the series now. It's fighting fire with fire.
"Queensland has been choosing four, five, six or seven Indigenous players for years and they have reigned for so long. We have had good players, the players who were there, but we haven't had someone who could do what Latrell Mitchell can do or what Jimmy Roberts can do.
"There is something instinctive installed in them, it is that off-the-cuff ability to break a game open at any time. You can't teach that, it something you are born with and in my experience of playing myself plus playing with other players, the majority of Indigenous players have that ability."
Mundine, who is a cousin to Roberts, said the Brisbane speedster and Mitchell, Addo-Carr and Peachey would be primed for big games in their Origin debuts at the MCG because of Fittler's show of confidence in them.
"I think the guys in charge now, like Freddy and [NSW adviser] Greg Alexander, they saw the injustice of the past and I really want to thank them for doing the right thing," Mundine said.
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