The Blues don’t have many excuses heading into Game 1 at Suncorp Stadium.
Queensland are missing four key pillars which have been hugely influential to their tremendous success over the past decade but arguably the most important cog is Johnathan Thurston who will be missing for the first time in 37 Origins.
With Thurston missing the Maroons are going to be missing some serious direction in the halves despite the fact that debutant Anthony Milford will be deputizing. With all due respect to Milford – he is no Thurston.
Along with JT missing there is no Greg Inglis, Matt Scott and Billy Slater with all those players all playing some integral part in beating New South Wales time and time again over the years.
The Blues welcome back Jarryd Hayne to the Origin arena for the first time since 2014 which coincidentally is the last time they won the series.
Hayne offers up much needed x-factor that Laurie Daley’s side has sorely missed over the past two series.
Without doubt the biggest factor to both sides winning this game will be Mitchell Pearce.
Fierce debate has raged over the Roosters halfback being recalled to the Origin team for the first time in two years and with his 16th appearance, will join Andrew Johns as having played the most games for the Blues in that position.
Pearce has had a good start to 2017 with the chooks and seems to have found a new lease on life with new halves partner, Luke Keary. He will partner James Maloney in the halves here who he won a premiership with for the tricolours back in 2013.
While he is playing arguably some of the best footy of his career, Pearce has continually failed at Origin level but Daley has seen enough in the number seven to give him another chance here.
With some of the most influential players ever to play the game missing for the opposition, Pearce won’t have any excuses not to deliver what could a series-defining performance in Game 1 on Wednesday night.