Tonight the 2012 State of Origin series gets underway with Game 1 played out in front of a big crowd of supporters at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, and as always the players and fans alike are gearing up for an epic clash from the two teams either side of the Tweed.
There has been the traditionally massive build-up to State of Origin Game 1, from discussions and analysis of the State of Origin team selections to the betting markets on this great state v state showdown.
The last time the mighty Queensland Maroons met with the New South Wales Blues was back in Game 3 last year when Queensland capped off their record breaking sixth straight Origin series win with a 34 – 24 win at Suncorp Stadium.
The Maroons led 24-nil in the opening 33 minutes of that match before the Blues fought back to score twice in the final three minutes of the game, closing the gap but not dampening the celebrations in the sunshine state.
Tonight is the Queenslander’s first game of a new era, an era with the legendary Darren Lockyer to captain them.
Taking over as skipper is Cameron Smith, and isn’t it fitting he gets to play his first as captain at his club home state in Melbourne.
Smith has battled with the flu this week but has been passed fit to play.
There’s always something niggling in the media to downplay Queensland’s dominance, but really they are the ones to beat.
And Smith isn’t the only one who will look at playing in Melbourne tonight as having the ‘home ground advantage’, much to the dislike of Blues’ coach Ricky Stuart.
He’s joined on the field by fellow Melbourne Storm stars Cooper Cronk and formidable fullback Billy Slater.
It really is a blissfully talented State of Origin Maroons team bursting with champions.
There’s five-eighth Johnathan Thurston who’ll be keen to help Smith fill Locky’s boots, the retiring warhorse Petero Civoniceva as well as exciting centres Justin Hodges and Greg Inglis geared up to get the job done.
And then there’s the bench.
When you have the likes of Ben Hannant, Dave Taylor, Dave Shillington and newbie Matt Gillett lying in wait for a run on you know that their opposition is going to find it tough.
They come in with more experience, more team cohesion, more confidence and are the raging favourites in the State of Origin odds at bookmaker.com.au.
Of course the Blues won’t just give the win away.
They have a new spine with halfback Mitchell Pearce, hooker Robbie Farah and fullback Brett Stewart who haven’t been there in that combo before.
Add into the mix the genius of Todd Carney and his can’t knock em’ down fellow Sharkie Paul Gallen you could just be expecting a tight State Of Origin result.
Love him or hate him the bad boy of league Carney has knuckled down this year and it shows.
He’s doing everything right which is why he’s earned that Blues jersey and he is key to inspiring an upset win here.
They also have a roster full of full 80-minute players such as the fiery Greg Bird, Jamie Buhrer, Luke Lewis and Tony Williams.
They are feeling the pressure, desperate to win back the respect of their fans and bragging rights they haven’t held in over half a decade.
They were thereabouts last year, but will they get any closer in 2012?
So how do you turn all his info into winnings? By showing your state support and having a State of Origin bet online at bookmaker.com.au.
See below for the NRLleague.com.au team’s exclusive State of Origin best bets then head along to bookmaker.com.au to get in on the action.
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2012 State of Origin Betting
State of Origin 2012 Odds
To Win –
Win by 1 – 12
Win by 13+
Total Score –