State of Origin Game 1 – Key Comparisons on the Team Sheets

An analysis on the key matchups around the park as well as who holds the advantage on paper. You may even be able to find the winner if you look deep enough.

Tue, 23 May, 7:39 AM



Darius Boyd VS James Tedesco


Outside of the Origin Arena you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would choose Boyd over Tedesco. Within the Origin Cauldron, Boyd wins this comparison hands down.


I like consistency and want to be able to trust my fullback. Boyd hasn’t put a foot out of line in Origin. He shone in last year’s Game Three with perfect positioning, 165 metres, five tackle busts and one of the four line breaks in the game. He also had a hand in Queensland’s only try.


Slater is watching this game from his living room because of Boyd. Whether you agree with the decision or not, you have to respect the man’s talent. Tedesco has a lot to prove. In a vacuum, he’s more talented than Boyd. Until I see Tedesco prove it in the intense Origin atmosphere Boyd is the pick in this one.


Pick: QLD



Centres / Wings


Oates - Chambers - O’Neill - Gagai VS Morris - Hayne - Dugan - Ferguson


A fairly even comparison in my opinion. What QLD’s backline lacks in talent, they make up for in chemistry and decision-making. The narrative seems to always be New South Wales trying to be too adventurous with the ball in hand. On the other side of the ledger the Queensland backs are simpler in their approach making less mistakes in the process.


Overall I’m not the biggest O’Neill fan and have my doubts in Gagai when the going gets tough. The NSW contingent has proven to have that experience necessary for the big games. Morris is a defensive beast, and Hayne’s defensive liability in the centre’s surely couldn’t be worse than what we’ve had with Jennings in recent years.


I’m going to close one eye and choose NSW to hold the better backline in this one. I think the absence of Thurston will hurt the Maroon’s backline.


Pick: NSW



Five Eighth


Anthony Milford VS James Maloney


Maloney is the play in this contest. Similar to the Boyd selection, Maloney has been there and done it in the past. He’s a dual premiership winning Five Eighth and has been able to hold his own both from a playmaking sense and defensively.


My key concern for Milford is not only his lack of experience, but also his defence when the forwards of NSW run it at him.


Neither Five Eighth inspires max confidence but I can’t choose any one player in their origin debut to outplay their opposite number.


Pick: NSW





Cooper Cronk VS Mitchell Pearce


Not much to think about for this one.


I think we’ll be seeing a different Pearce to recent years given his style for the Roosters this year. Unfortunately he could revamp his style 5x over and he wouldn’t be selected over Cronk.


You don’t lead an Origin squad to 4 victories in the last 5 series and not win this comparison.


Pick: QLD





Cameron Smith VS Nathan Peats


I have no doubt that Nathan Peats will make the 9 jersey his own over the coming years. For now, he’s up against the wiliest, most cunning customers State of Origin has ever seen.


Cameron Smith is clever in everything he does. How he tackles, how he talks to the referees, when he darts, when he passes. Peats has a lot of catching up to do before he is on Smith’s level.


Pick: QLD



Front Row


Napa - Myles VS Woods - Fifita


Must give the nod to the boys in Blue. As much as I don’t think Woods deserved his jumper this year, it’s hard to choose a Myles on the decline and Napa who can lack consistency at times.


Fifita is the perfect origin specimen. He runs hard, has a mouth as big as his ass and genuinely wants to rip the head off every Queenslander. Woods gets through a significant workload. NSW gets the nod in the battle of the bookends.


Pick: NSW



Second Row/Lock


Papalii - Gillett - McGuire VS Jackson - Cordner - Frizell


When you really think about it the second rowers on the NSW roster outweigh those in Maroon. However, from those that’ve been selected to start, I have to go with Queensland in this one.


If Jackson were replaced with a Graham or Trbojevic I’d side with the Blues.


Papalii is the most physical of the bunch and Gillett and Cordner are surprisingly comparable. Frizell is a monster but if it came to choosing between Moose McGuire and Josh ‘no attack Jackson, my vote is with the Moose and the Maroons.


Pick: QLD





Morgan - Thaiday - Guerra - Lillyman VS Klemmer - Graham - Trbojevic - Bird


Blues. This one isn’t even a contest. Morgan is a livewire but the rest of the Maroons seem to belong in a retirement village.


Klemmer, Graham and Trbojevic are all International level players and Bird seems like the ideal utility in an origin match up. No need to overthink this contest.


Pick: NSW



Overall Record QLD 4 – NSW 4


Given how close the sides look on paper I wouldn’t be surprised to see a close encounter. 80% of the bets placed on the game since the Blues team was announced have been on NSW (Source: Sportsbet). Strike while there’s still value! When it boils down to the final minutes and you’re wondering who’s going to come away with the Game 1 win you will want the +2.


Best Bet: Either team under 6.5

Line: NSW +2


By Nik Hatzi

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