New Queensland coach Kevin Walters and retiring NSW captain Paul Gallen have predicted a spiteful start to this year’s State of Origin series.
In the traditional match-eve media conference, both Walters and Gallen said a genuine dislike existed between the Blues and Maroons and predicted that to come out in force at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday in the series opener.
“It’s an Origin game and a lot of NRL rules go out the window,” Gallen said on Tuesday.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of niggle in every single tackle. There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of passion from both sides. We both love it, we both hate each other and, at the end of the day, we’re trying to hurt each other.”
Walters said Gallen’s last series as NSW skipper was likely to provide extra motivation for the Blues.
“Both teams love playing against each other – that’s what Origin is about. There’s lots in the tackles; there’s lots in the runs,” Walters said.
“And partly with it being Paul’s last series, I am sure he will put everything into the game.
“The team who usually wins the physical battle usually goes on to win the game.
With Matt Moylan, Adam Reynolds, Josh Mansour and Dylan Walker to make their Origin debuts for NSW, Gallen said he had prepared his rookies for a fire and brimstone opener.
“The debutants will be ready for that,” he said.
“They’re not coming here to pull on the blue jumper and just be happy to be here. They’re here to make a difference, which I’m sure they will.”
Corey Oates and Justin O’Neill will play their first matches for Queensland.
Maroons forward Corey Parker and Blues interchange prop David Klemmer will do battle again following their heated clash last year in game two.
Parker walked out on a media conference last week when asked about the relationship between the two.
But Gallen doesn’t believe Queensland are intimidated by Canterbury enforcer Klemmer.
“I don’t think at this level there is intimidation any more, to be honest,” Gallen said.
“Everyone is big enough and tough enough. It’s just about doing your job to the best of your ability.
“The intimidation is gone – you can’t punch anyone any more. All you can do is get stuck into each tackle.”
Maroons halfback Cooper Cronk remains in doubt due to an ankle injury.
However, Gallen dismissed the fitness concerns as nothing but mind games from Queensland and said the Blues expected the Melbourne superstar to play.
• Since the introduction of a three-game series in 1982, the team who have won game one have gone on to claim the series on 25 occasions (from 34 series), including in six of the past seven series
• NSW have the advantage in game-one matches in Sydney, winning eight of the 14 played, including six of the eight game-one matches at ANZ Stadium
• Cameron Smith will overtake Darren Lockyer (36 games) to become the most-capped player in Origin history in this match
• Johnathan Thurston will play his 34th consecutive Origin match, the most consecutive all- time; he has not missed an Origin since making his debut in game one, 2005. He was the only Queensland player to be part of every match of their eight consecutive series wins.
Source: Fox Sports Stats
NSW: Matt Moylan, Blake Ferguson, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Josh Mansour, James Maloney, Adam Reynolds, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Paul Gallen (capt), Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson, Greg Bird. Res: James Tamou, David Klemmer, Andrew Fifita, Dylan Walker
QLD: Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Greg Inglis, Justin O’Neill, Dane Gagai, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), Nate Myles, Aidan Guerra, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker. Res: Michael Morgan, Sam Thaiday, Josh Papalii, Josh McGuire