Andrew Pelechaty previews the opening game of State of Origin 2022 to be played at Accor Stadium in Sydney
New South Wales Blues Vs Queensland Maroons
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney
Date: Wednesday June 8, 8:10pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: 2022 State of Origin seriesEmbed from Getty Images
Blues: 1. James Tedesco (c) (Sydney Roosters), 2. Brian To’o (Penrith Panthers), 3. Kotoni Staggs (Brisbane Broncos), 4. Jack Wighton (Canberra Raiders), 5. Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters), 6. Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers), 7. Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers), 8. Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos), 9. Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 10. Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels), 11. Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 12. Tariq Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons), 13. Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers), 14. Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers), 15. Liam Martin (Penrith Panthers), 16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Parramatta Eels), 17. Ryan Matterson (Parramatta Eels), 18. Nicho Hynes (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), 19. Tyson Frizell (Newcastle Knights), 20. Jacob Saifiti (Newcastle Knights), 21. Joseph Suaalii (Sydney Roosters), 22. Apisai Koroisau (Penrith Panthers). Coach: Brad Fittler
After a convincing series win last year, NSW coach Brad Fittler has wisely kept the faith, with eight players from last year’s Game Three side returning: captain James Tedesco, Brian To’o, Jack Wighton, Cameron Murray, Isaah Yeo, Junior Paulo, Tariq Sims, and Damien Cook, while Josh Addo-Carr is the surprise omission. There are also six debutants: three in the starting 17 (Ryan Matterson, Kotoni Staggs, Stephen Crichton) and three on the Extended Bench (Joseph Suaalii, Nicho Hynes, Jacob Saifiti). Reagan Campbell-Gillard will play his first Origin game since 2018. Again, there’s a heavy Penrith flavour, with seven Panthers named (six in the starting 17).Embed from Getty Images
Maroons: 1. Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights), 2. Selwyn Cobbo (Brisbane Broncos), 3. Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys), 4. Dane Gagai (Newcastle Knights), 5. Xavier Coates (Melbourne Storm), 6. Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm), 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles), 8. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Gold Coast Titans), 9. Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), 10. Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders), 11. Kurt Capewell (Brisbane Broncos), 12. Felise Kaufusi (Melbourne Storm), 13. Reuben Cotter (North Queensland Cowboys), 14. Harry Grant (Melbourne Storm), 15. Lindsay Collins (Sydney Roosters), 16. Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos), 17. Jeremiah Nanai (North Queensland Cowboys), 18. Tom Dearden (North Queensland Cowboys), 19. Jai Arrow (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 20. Thomas Flegler (Brisbane Broncos), 21. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (North Queensland Cowboys), 22. Murray Taulagi (North Queensland Cowboys). Coach: Billy Slater
Some fresh faces for Daly Cherry-Evans’ Queensland side, with Billy Slater the new coach (replacing Paul Green), and Reuben Cotter, Jeremiah Nanai (North Queensland) Patrick Carrigan, and Selwyn Cobbo (Brisbane) to debut, a fair reflection on the Cowboys and Broncos’ strong starts to 2022. Kalyn Ponga, Val Holmes, Dane Gagai, Xavier Coates, and Cameron Munster all return from Queensland’s 20-18 win in Game Three last year.
Referee: Ashley Klein
It’s that time of the year again, and NSW will be full of confidence after last year’s dominance. They outscored Queensland by a ridiculous 76-6 in the first two games before the Maroons – as is their want – snatched a consolation win in the “dead rubber” (though there’s no such thing in Origin).
With eight players from last year’s final game returning, it’s easy to see NSW continuing on their merry way again, especially with the large Penrith contingent full of confidence (with the Panthers again at the top of the table). The Blues have embraced the lucrative retro market as well, with a return to the iconic ’80s/’90s NSWRL logo and the all-sky blue strip. Though it’s mildly awkward that the dumped Addo-Carr was featured in the new kit’s launch back in March.
While it may sound harsh, there’s questions marks over new coach Billy Slater. Yes, he was a champion player, but champion players don’t automatically translate to champion coaches. On the other hand, he may offer a fresh and fearless approach after Queensland were monstered last year.
Of course, Queensland fans will remember “Fatty’s Miracle” in 1995, when a Queensland side – minus their Super League players – won 3-0. Like Slater, Paul Vautin was a premiership-winning-player-turned-commentator with no head coaching experience.
The Maroons will be the underdog here, which they’ll love, and they have the decider at Lang Park. That’s plenty motivation to keep the series alive.
Despite this, it’s hard to go past a classy NSW team again. Queensland will hopefully be competitive under Slater, so it shouldn’t be as one-sided as 2022.Embed from Getty Images
Winning the first game of the series is crucial: out of 40 three game series’, the game one winner has won the series 30 times.
Queensland have won 16 series’ (out of 20) after an opening game win, while NSW have won 14 (also out of 20).
Not surprisingly, Queensland are comeback kings, with six wins to four.
Blues by 10.
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