NSW will be looking to bounce back from a shock series loss last year when they take on Queensland in Game 1 of State of Origin in Townsville on Wednesday night.
The Blues won in two series in a row in 2018 and 2019 before master coach Wayne Bennett helped the Maroons cause a boilover last year, winning the series 2-1. Queensland has a new coach this year in Paul Green.
Stream selected Fox League shows on Kayo Freebies completely free this June including NRL 360, Sunday Night with Matty Johns, Big League Wrap & more. No Credit Card. No Brainer. Register Free Now >
The bookies are favouring Brad Fittler’s men to come out on top in Game 1, but they’ll have to do it in front a parochial Queensland crowd after the match was moved from Melbourne to Townsville.
But despite getting a game in their own backyard — two in a row in fact — and straight after one of the most shocking Origin series victories in history, Queensland are again rejecting the favourites tag.
Asked who the underdogs were, Maroons rookie coach Paul Green said: “We are. Queensland.”
“Because we’ve had a pretty disrupted prep, and on paper they’re a better team than us.”
Maroons five-eighth Cameron Munster is comes into the series under an injury cloud and is managing a foot injury.
But last year’s Man of the Series always rises to the occasion of State of Origin and will be a handful for NSW.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Game 1 so you don’t miss any of the action.
What time does the game start?
How can I watch the game?
You can watch Game 1 live on Channel 9, or live stream it via the network’s online platform 9Now.
Kayo will have pre-game coverage from 6pm (AEST) as well as post-game analysis.
A replay of the game will be available on Kayo 30 minutes after the game has ended with no ad breaks.
If you can’t catch the action, news.com.au will be running a live blog of the game and with all the best reaction, analysis and talking points so you can stay up to date.
Where is the game being played?
Game 1 is being played at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.
With a smaller capacity of 25,000, it will certainly provide a different atmosphere than usually seen at State of Origin matches.
Game 1 was originally scheduled to be played on neutral territory at the MCG but was moved to Townsville due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne.
Game 2 will be played at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, meaning the Blues will have to win at least one of the first two games in Queensland to stay alive in the series.
What is the weather forecast?
It will be a mostly sunny day in Townsville on Wednesday, with a top of 26C predicted and dry conditions expected for the game.
What are the betting odds?
In the head-to-head market, the Blue are clear favourites, paying $1.50 for the win with TAB, while Queensland is at $2.60.
NSW halfback Nathan Cleary is the bookies’ favourite for Player of the Match at $5.50.
Teams for game 1
NSW Blues: 1. James Tedesco 2. Brian To’o 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Tom Trbojevic 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Jake Trbojevic 11. Cameron Murray 12. Tariq Sims 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Jack Wighton 15. Junior Paulo 16. Payne Haas 17. Liam Martin 18. Api Koroisau 19. Campbell Graham
Coach: Brad Fittler
QLD Maroons: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Xavier Coates 3. Kurt Capewell 4. Dane Gagai 5. Kyle Feldt 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Christian Welch 9. Harry Grant 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. David Fifita 13. Jai Arrow 14. AJ Brimson 15. Jaydn Su’A 16. Moeaki Fotuaika 17. Joe Ofahengaue 18. Coen Hess 19. Ben Hunt
Coach: Paul Green