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The intensity of Origin is like nothing else, and the increased speed will suit Blues debutant Luke Keary to a tee.

NSW go into game one of the Ampol State of Origin series in Adelaide on Wednesday as deserved, heavy favourites. All but three of their 17 players featured in the finals and they've built a strong culture over the past two years.

Keary won't have any trouble finding his feet when lining up alongside Nathan Cleary.

He's been the best five-eighth in the competition for the past three seasons and knows all about the big stage having won three premierships by the age of 27.

He plays over the advantage line, takes short-sides better than anyone else and should relish Origin being a little bit quicker than what he experiences in the NRL.

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Sometimes in the NRL, with the way the play-the-balls are, Keary probably gets slowed down and teams can try to grab hold of him. That won't be as much of an issue on the Origin stage.

While Keary looks tailor-made for Origin, it's his halves partner Cleary's time to really take over. After five Origin games and two series wins, expect the Panthers halfback to play the best football of his Blues career.

Cleary showed this year that he can lead a team to the big dance. The grand final loss to Melbourne would have been disappointing, but that won't be in his mind come Wednesday.

Playing at the Adelaide Oval may benefit Queensland. With eight debutants named, the neutral crowd could get behind them as the underdogs. It'll also be a bit weird for the rookies.

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I was lucky enough to debut at Suncorp Stadium in 2011 and no-one will ever change my mind that State of Origin isn't better in NSW or Queensland.

As a Blue, you go up there and debut with all the Queenslanders hating you. That was probably one of my best memories of playing footy.

The Maroons are in a bit of a transition period right now, but coach Wayne Bennett will have them primed.

He'll love people saying Queensland can’t win. All of a sudden you'll look at the scoreboard and it might be 6-0 to the Maroons early on.

Wayne will be quietly confident that he's got the players there to win the game regardless of experience.

Cameron Munster's the kind of guy that can turn up and rip a match apart.

I'm looking forward to how he and Daly Cherry-Evans combine with their unstructured style.

In saying that, NSW could come out and blow the Maroons away. They have a lethal backline including Clint Gutherson debuting at right centre.

Gutho is just a footballer – you could chuck him in the middle and he'd get the job done.

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It'd be a let-down if the Blues started slow.

They've looked pretty relaxed in camp, they haven't had any disrupting injuries, James Tedesco's fit and firing and Cleary's ready to bounce back.

It's all in NSW's favour.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

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