New South Wales go in with the 17-man squad named earlier this week but there are two late changes to the run-on side with Liam Martin and Reagan Campbell-Gillard starting in the pack with Cameron Murray and Junior Paulo making an impact from the bench.
It is an extraordinarily talent group from back to front, full of leaders, match-winners, grinders and game-breakers. This 17 would win most matches in the history of rugby league.
As has already been well discussed, the omission of Josh Addo-Carr – presumably reflecting Fittler’s concern for Queensland’s aerial prowess – is the headline selection news. There’s also no shortage of conjecture over Jack Wighton starting ahead of Stephen Crichton in the centres.
Not bad for a rep side missing the quality of Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic to illness and injury.
State of Origin is so often about Queensland but more so than anytime in recent series this year is all about the Maroons. It is about Billy Slater and a raft of debutants. It is even about the Blues diverging from recent style to react to Queensland’s team selections.
If it’s narrative you want in your Origin 1 preview, Nick Tedeschi has bucketloads of it.
I’ve not been on the tools for a while, so I might be a little rusty.
Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of State of Origin Game 1 between New South Wales and Queensland. Kick-off in Sydney is scheduled for 8.10pm AEST (but I’ll level with you, it’s likely to be closer to 8.30 with all the prematch hoo-ha).
Origin’s back, and as always the anticipation of the new fizzes like a bag of Pop Rocks tipped into a gurgle of Tizer.
Can the all-powerful Blues extend their recent record to four series victories in five years, or will the remodelled Maroons upset the odds?
How will Billy Slater cope in a box; and how will we cope with Ray Warren outside of one?
Is Brad Fittler overthinking things by omitting Josh Addo-Carr and not selecting Stephen Crichton in his starting XIII, or is it another masterstroke from a modern-day Origin wizard?
We have a long night ahead so let’s pace ourselves, settle in, and savour one of the world’s great sporting spectacles.