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Maroons to dominate again as Origin celebrates 100 games

Hard to believe that today marks the 100th State of Origin match.
Unfortunately, those of us living in Muswellbrook in 1980 and 1981 at the time didn’t get to watch the game as Newcastle’s NBN television did not provide a broadcast.
Had to rely on the radio for coverage of the game.
Incredibly, if you were able to get reception from the Tamworth television station you were able to watch the one-off game in 1980 and 1981.
NBN got their act together in 1982 when the inaugural best-of-three series was created.
Happened to be on a flight from Cairns to Darwin in 2010 and missed the live broadcast of a game.
That means in 34 years, your author has only missed the coverage of three games on TV.
Apart from the 100th Origin, Game 1 of the 2014 series also marks 20 years since Queensland pulled off that remarkable last minute win over NSW at the Sydney Football Stadium – as it was known as back then.
Mark Coyne dives over for a try after the Maroons string pass after pass together before Ray Warren comes up with that famous line: “That’s not a try, that’s a miracle”.
Of the endless moments in Origin, you wouldn’t endure too much criticism if you were to nominate Coyne’s try as your No 1 highlight.
Sadly for us NSW fans, it looks like Queensland will make it nine straight series wins in a row.
The Maroons have incredible depth and unlike the Blues they boast far too many match-winners.
How tough will it be for the Blues to win the series?
This current Queensland outfit is arguably the best state team of any code in Australian sporting history.
How would they compare against the best provincial football teams in the world in the history of sport?
Even without the injured Sam Thaiday, Queensland still looks formidable, but NSW might be able to capitalise on three weak links.
The Maroons are a pretty loyal bunch, but there is no way Darius Boyd, Chris McQueen and James Papalii should have been chosen for Game 1 ahead of Will Chambers, David Taylor and Jacob Lillyman.
Taylor is stiff to miss selection.
Boyd can expect plenty of high kicks heading his way on Wednesday night as his form with Newcastle has bordered on the diabolical.
The fact that he played for Australia this year is a disgrace.
Once again, the Blues produce a juggling act in their quest to win a series for the first time since 2005.
Brett Hodgson was a terrific servant for the Blues, but his untimely pass in the closing minutes of Game 3 in Melbourne in 2006 continues to haunt NSW fans.
Thankfully, Mitchell Pearce has been punted from the Blues line up.
It’s horrifying to think that Pearce would have retained his spot as halfback had he not ventured to King’s Cross.
That means Roosters teammate James Maloney – who didn’t set Origin alight last year – would have been retained as well
The Blues were happy to select Bulldogs halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds, but one can only imagine what NSW selectors would have done had Maloney been in red-hot form.
Picking combinations for Origin has merit, but it also has its drawbacks.
Don’t think they pick combinations when it comes to the Australian side.
Selectors usually settle on the best players.
The loss of Andrew Fifita, Boyd Cordner and Greg Bird is a blow for the Blues, but even if they were available NSW still would have had to have produced a magic act to win Game 1.
The fact that Paul Gallen, Robbie Farah and Luke Lewis have only just returned from injury – regardless of their Origin experience – has got to enahnce Queensland’s prospects as well.
Depth is a major issue for the Blues if they had to re-cycle Beau Scott and Ryan Hoffman, and stick with Trent Merrin.
Would love to see Tariq Sims in a Blues jumper.
Like Reynolds, Gallen, Tamou and Scott, Sims would have brought a bit of mongrel to the NSW line up.
Daniel Tupou won a premiership with the Roosters, but Will Hopoate may have been a wiser option on the wing.
Hopoate has won a premiership with Manly and boasts Origin experience, and he has already established a healthy combination with Jarryd Hayne at Parramatta.
Tony Williams can make an impact from off the bench for NSW, but Queensland has got Daly Cherry-Evans up its sleeve.
Queensland just has far too much class and as they will also honour Arthur Beetson in Game 1 it could be an ugly night for the Blues unless they find the spirit that saw them grab an upset victory in Game 3 in Brisbane in 2009.
That’s the only Origin match your author has attended.
NSW won’t lie down, but Queensland will win.
Maroons by 10.

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