The State of Origin series is finally here! With the build up into this season appearing to be less than those gone by, the one question on everyone’s lips is whether or not NSW will be able to end the reign of the Maroons. It has been a painful 8 years for the Blues and many of their fans will have reservations about their chances. That is due to the class of their opponents but the Blues players are adamant that they are capable of winning. At some stage though, the dominance does have to end but as it has been for sometime now, it will be an uphill battle for the Blues to overthrow a side that is full of Australian players and “possibly” future Immortals of the game. In amongst it all, there will be an opportunity to win some money on the game. Rather than follow the usual preview that I give in every NRL match this season, I am going to take a different approach. Remember that this game isn’t like any other and I recommend that you explore all markets that are available and enjoy more than just the match you are watching, but get involved in it by possibly winning some money.
New South Wales
1. Jarryd Hayne 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Michael Jennings 4. Josh Morris 5. Brett Morris 6. Josh Reynolds 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farrah 10. James Tamou 11. Beau Scott 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Paul Gallen (c) Interchange: 14. Trent Merrin 15. Anthony Watmough 16. Luke Lewis 17. Tony Williams
The Blues again are experimenting with a new halves pairing. The highly publicised change between the Roosters halves and the Bulldogs players has been well documented; with many suggesting that the two players named will not be the solution to the problems of the Blues. If anything, their form at club level has been impressive, albeit on the back of some dominant play by their monstrous forward pack. Even with some players missing, those who are included will have to make a stand for their halves and ensure that they are moving forward over the advantage line. It probably a vulnerable area for them, in the same measure it will be an unpredictable one for the Maroons; with the form of Reynolds capable of producing anything. Daley has finally picked a team on form and this should be an area that they look to target. They do not appear to have many front-row options, with Gallen likely to push forward at some stage. It goes without saying, this set of forwards need to stand up form the opening minutes to give the halves and outside backs the best chance of winning. Aggression may be the key, but they also have to play with some measure and control; while at the same time limiting their mistakes.
Best Chance = Jarryd Hayne – His form at club level has been exciting and the free movement he is given is growing his game. His ability to pop up anywhere on the field brings him into contention with any NSW attacking movement, let alone getting the ball with room to move.
Outsider = Josh Reynolds – If they get close to the line, expect Reynolds to stop at nothing to get across. He is a fantastically talented player that can sometimes dominate the possession a little ‘too’ much. In some sense, that can be a negative in his game but now it could perhaps work in his favor.
1. Billy Slater 2. Darius Boyd 3. Greg Inglis 4. Justin Hodges 5. Brent Tate 6. Johnathan Thurston 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Matt Scott 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Nate Myles 11. Chris McQueen 12. Matt Gillett 13. Corey Parker Interchange: 14. Daley Cherry-Evans 15. Ben Te’o 16. Aidan Guerra 17. Josh Papali
It is business as usual for the Maroons, with the only surprise being the naming of Aidan Guerra. This has been brought about by the injury to Sam Thaiday, with Matt Gillett pushing into the starting side and Guerra coming off the bench. Ashley Harrison has also been replaced, with Corey Park named to start at lock. Many NSW fans have taken offence to the apparent ‘arrogance’ that has oozed from the QLD camp; then again, they have plenty of reasons to be. The only question mark that may be raised is the strength of their forwards and their bench. The ‘notable’ player will stand up, but the form of Gillet, Parker, McQueen, Te’o and Papalii at club level hasn’t been up to the level that it should be. The Blues will be hungry to get over these players, but ultimately they need to target the “key” players like Thurston, Smith, Slater and Cronk; otherwise they will not stand a chance of winning this match.
Best Chance = Darius Boyd – Thanks to a follower on Twitter, I was reminded just how leathal this guy can be at Origin level. Majority of that has to do with playing outside GI, as he attracts two defenders, leaving Boyd unmarked. Not only that, he is dangerous with the ball or attacking on the end of a kick.
Outsider = Cooper Cronk – Cronk will be steering the ship for the Maroon’s but he is also a chance to pop up for a try. Everyone is aware of his talent and it seems as though there is a generous price being offered by the bookies.
TAB Sportsbet = QLD $1.45 NSW $2.85
Centrebet = QLD $1.45 NSW $2.80
Sportsbet = QLD $1.45 NSW $2.85
Betfair = QLD $1.50 NSW $2.92
First Try Scorer/Margin Double = Lets face it, it would be very surprising to see the winning margin for either side get out to a 13+ margin. So if you’re having a FTS bet, you should also consider coupling it together with a 1-12 margin for either side.
Winning margin = If you want a little more value out of your margin bet, then contemplate being a little more specific on the actual margin. The game will fall between 1-12 points, but you can also narrow down that between 1-6 (QLD @ $5, NSW @ $6) and 7-12 (QLD @ $5, NSW @ $8).
Tri Bet = Still can’t make up your mind but believe that it will be a tight contest? Then the option of “Either Team Under 6.5 points” @ $2.90 is a good way to go. Take it as fact, this will be a close contest and winning by more than a converted try would be fairly surprising to see.
Man of the Match = A good bet to consider as it offers small amount of value and there are only really certain players that are going to win it. For NSW, it is between Gallen ($13), Farrah ($11), Hayne ($8) and Reynolds ($15). The best value of those being Gallen and Farrah; both play in the forwards and you would expect that they would be likely to play the entire 80 minutes. In the QLD camp, the obvious choices are Cronk ($9), Thurston ($5.50), Inglis ($15) and Smith ($7.50). At $9, Cooper Cronk is a value choice as he will be a central point of the QLD attack.
If NSW want to win this series and break their drought, they are going to have to win a match at Suncorp Stadium. To avoid a dramatic Game 3 in a hostile environment, this is a match that they have to make the most of. Then again, the task is appearing to be a difficult one. This aging Maroons team oozes class all over the field and will be able to cover for their few ‘vulnerable’ areas. It would take a brave (or even one-eyed supporter) to suggest that the Blues can get the job done, but the task is not beyond them. The Maroons appear as they will be too strong in this contest and the inclusion of Reynold and Hodkinson has questions flying around about their validity. You couldn’t pick the Blues with enough faith to invest your money in them. Hopefully, a decider in Game 3 is where this match is heading and at that point, there will be a clearer picture in relation to the chance that the Blues have.