The first game of the 2013 Origin Series is almost upon us. Betting agencies have the odds at an almost 50/50 split and the experts are just as equally divided in trying to pick a winner.
Queensland are trying to win an unprecedented 8th straight Origin series whilst NSW are trying to regain that winning feelings. As a NSW fan I almost forget what it feels like to win a series.
Over the past week or so I have read it all. How NSW can win, what NSW need to do to win, right now I’m going to tell you why NSW WILL win:
Amazing Front Row Rotation
I have long said (and I am not the only one) that the world’s best front rower has been playing lock for many years. Paul Gallen is the best metre eater in the game and his best position is in the front row. Andrew Fifita is the in-form front rower, coming off his domination of arguably the best forward pack in the game in the form of the Rabbits. James Tamou, although slightly out of form has proven himself time and time again. Gallen will play close to 80 minutes and I would imagine Fifita will play the majority allowing Tamou to go all out in short bursts, where I think he will be most effective.
Familiar Halves Pairing
The Blues have used 300 halves pairings in the past 7 Origin series, and for mine they got this one wrong (again) but one thing is for sure, both players should work well in tandem. The fact Michael Jennings is in the centres will assist both in that they should also be very familiar with his game, and vice versa. Both Maloney and Pearce have had a great 2013, with Maloney especially gaining a new lease on life since his move. The Roosters are flying high and hopefully they bring their form into Game 1 … Pearce is certainly due for a big Origin
A Much More Impactful Bench
NSW’s interchange bench pacts an impactful punch in the form of Watmough, Fifita, Merrin and Reynolds. Fifita has been in career best form off the bench for the Sharks. Watmough is one of the hardest runners in the game. Merrin has never looked better despite the fact the Dragons are playing extremely inconsistently. Reynolds is built for Origin and could be the game breaker if he is held back to the last 20 minutes or so to target tired Queensland defenders. The Queenslanders also pose one hell of a bench but they are more solid than impactful.
Thurston’s Mind Is Elsewhere
Thurston is the ultimate professional and you’d be a brave man to bet against him having a good game on Wednesday night but as every parent will tell you, the last week or so of your partner’s pregnancy is extremely distracting. Although I put in 100% at work, she and my future son were ALWAYS on my mind. Thurston will play well, but he’s only human and his mind will wander. He’s also been sick with the flu, something that knocks even the strongest of individuals around.
QLD Players Out Of Form (Sort Of)
Greg Inglis aside the Maroon’s main attacking players have not been in top form. God help us if Cronk, Slater, Inglis, Smith and Thurston all fire at once because NO team can combat that. All have been good but Inglis aside none have reached top form recently. I’m tipping (i.e. hoping) this continues on Wednesday night.
NSW Have The Best Back Row Going
Lewis, Hoffman, Bird … Watmough and Merrin. Back rows just do not get any better than that. I expect Gallen to see some time in the back row (hopefully not a lot though, he has to remain in the middle) but in Bird, Lewis and Hoffman the Blues essentially have another 3 running 5/8ths. If Maloney struggles and the game is tight I expect Lewis or Bird to move to 5/8 to take some pressure of Maloney for a set or two. As QLD’s wide running back rowers tire I expect Watmough especially to find space. Miles, Thaiday and Harrison will have their hands full from the first minute til the 80th and I just think the NSW 11 through to 13 gives them a big advantage.
It has been down-right disgusting weather wise and it’s expected to tonight right up until game time on Wednesday. Paul Gallen is the king of wet weather football when he tucks the ball under his arm and hits it up. Queensland have far more flair than NSW and I believe the wet weather will bring them way back to the playing field. NSW have a better back row, this is where the game will be won in the wet.
QLD supporters will turn out in big numbers but they will be outnumbered 8 to 1 by passionate, screaming NSW fans. Blatchey’s Blues will pack an entire end of the ANZ stadium and I expect 60,000 others to be just as loud. Queensland will run out into a cauldron on Wednesday night and although I doubt it will in any way intimidate QLD’s players, it WILL lift the Blues to victory
My Tip: NSW: 20-16
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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