The biggest rivalry in rugby league resumes on Wednesday when the opening match of the 2022 State of Origin series takes place in Sydney as the New South Wales Blues begin the defence of the shield against the Queensland Maroons.
New South Wales dominated the series while it was live last season and will be out to keep the shield for a fourth year in five. Queensland restored some pride with a win in the final game and will be out to build on that here.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Arena channels with the build-up getting underway at 10am and the kick off in Sydney coming at 11.10am.
New South Wales Blues
After a Queensland monopoly on this competition, the New South Wales Blues have won three of the last four series and head into the 2022 campaign as the favourites to come out on top once again. One of the reasons for that is the home advantage that they enjoy in this opening match of the series. The Accor Stadium will host this first match and it will be the first time Origin has been in New South Wales since November 2020 so it will be quite some occasion.
The Blues won the series through the pace and precision of their halves last season but their two centres from those successes will be missing here. Brad Fittler has cleverly named six Penrith Panthers in his side with Nathan Cleary arguably the best half-back in the world right now while James Tedesco could be the best player in the sport. There might be no Tom Trbojevic in this New South Wales side but there is a lot of skill and plenty of class.
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The Queensland Maroons have countered their thrashing last season by getting the old band back together. Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk terrorised the Blues for a number of series over the last couple of decades and they have been thrown together as a coaching group aimed with the task of getting the shield back. This will be the first match head coach Billy Slater has ever coached but he has ticked a lot of boxes with his team selection.
He too has a half-back pairing who can be unplayable on their day and with the exciting Selwyn Cobbo making his debut on one wing and the classy Kalyn Ponga at full-back there is no shortage of quality in the back field of the Maroons. The question will be whether the power they have up the middle is enough to keep tabs on the Blues’ passing game within their forwards. If it is then Queensland will fancy their chances of pulling off quite an upset.
New South Wales are the favourites for this match and I think that Penrith spine they have probably makes that fair enough but I’m a little concerned that Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic had such an impact in the opening two matches last season that their absences will be felt here. I can’t quite bring myself to take the Blues on in Sydney but there is certainly a bit of value in the price of the Queensland Maroons.
I think the best bet is for there to be more than 36.5 points in the match though. We are used to the opening game being a tight affair in this series but last year it was anything but that and I’m not convinced it will be that tight here with the pace, power and quality on show not to mention the slick conditions which could lead to a few defensive errors. I don’t think this match will be 50-6 like it was last year but all three matches covered this line and with the quality in the halves and the scoring power all around the pitch I expect more than 36.5 points here.
Back Over 36.5pts for a 3/10 stake at 2.00 with Bet365