International Rugby League: Saturday June 23

State of Origin – Game One

Wednesday 6th June. 8:00PM AEST – MCG

Queensland have absolutely dominated Origin over the last 12 years, winning 11 series, but this seems like the year the tide is receding with Queensland enduring the retirement of legends Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk and NSW finally making the right call to move on from the uber-conservative Laurie Daley. The Blues could not have selected a more potent team.

Going on current form at club level, there is no comparison between the teams. The Blues have four players in the top 16 of Dally M Medal voting compared to one of the Maroons. NSW have nine players from Top 4 clubs compared to four of Queensland. The Blues have historically rarely prioritised form and against a Maroons team that looks there for the taking, it could be key.

While Queensland has obvious recent history on their side, there are a few angles here for NSW with the Blues winning three of the last five series openers and three of the four matches played at the MCG.

NSW look to have Queensland’s measure across the park in terms of matchups. The forward pack is no comparison. The Blues have held the upper-hand in that department for a number of years now and get a clear tick heading into the series opener. Damien Cook is the match of Andrew McCullough defensively and  is a far superior attacking weapon. The combination of James Maloney and Nathan Cleary gives them a minor edge in the halves. The Blues have a superior speed edge in the three-quarter line.

NSW look primed to win and win well in Melbourne. Five of the last eight Origins have been decided by eight points or more so expectations that Origin is always close is a fallacy. The Blues should go 1-0 up, they should cover the line and they are more than capable of winning 13-plus.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – NSW -4.5


Total

Selections seem to indicate that we in for a more open Origin than has traditionally been forecast for a series opener. Blue coach Brad Fittler has instituted a clear change in philosophy with his team selection, opting for speed and form rather than size and reputation. It is clear the Blues are going to try to outscore the Maroons rather than contain them and hope for the best.

The last five Origins and seven of the last eight have all topped 28 so a small uptick in likely try expectation should send this over. There is a good refereeing angle here in play as well with Gerard Sutton officiated games going over in eight of 10 night games when the total is below 36.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 34.5


Man of the Match

Damien Cook has emerged as arguably the most dynamic player in the competition and looks well over the odds to win man of the match honours. Cook has attracted the attention of Dally M voters, currently in the Top 10 of voting, and hookers (admittedly, Cameron Smith) have a strong record winning Man of the Match honours in State of Origin. Cook could well play 80 minutes with no specialist hooker on the bench and there are a number of big Queensland forwards he can take advantage of at the backend of halves. An excellent bet at anything 10.0 or above.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Damien Cook


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