Up the Blues, united in Maroon. Two phrases we’re going to be hearing an awful lot of across sports bars everywhere over the next few months. Particularly if you’re heading to a pub in the two great states of New South Wales or Queensland.
It’s officially Origin season, where one of Australia’s greatest sporting rivalries plays out in front of our eyes. I don’t know about you, but there’s no greater reason to find your way into a jam packed beer garden or pub, all eyes glued to the screen for the first game. We’ve ridden every bump, diving try and tackle with our mates at our local, adjudicating the best on field at all times as if we have a degree in rugby league (we do).
Will the Maroons go back to back, after a huge performance in 2022? Will the Blues come out with a vengeance? Last year, the third game of the series etched itself in history with a nail biting finish. Will we get the same performance? We’ll cross our fingers.
The teams are in, any surprises?
Queensland Coach Billy Slater has named his team for game one, and to everyone’s surprise, Kayln Ponga is out. The Newcastle superstar was dropped on Monday from the Maroons team for the series opener in Adelaide on the 31st of May.
Along with Newcastle teammate, Dane Gagai, the two were reportedly in the team right down to the final minute on Sunday night. Having both their names scratched from the squad following their uninspiring performances in the Knight’s loss to Cronulla.
For Gagai, a cult hero for the Maroons, at the age of 32, his Origin career is likely over. Broncos star, Reece Walsh has been named at fullback to make his debut, and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow in the centre.
Meanwhile, over in the Blues camp, they’ve already been forced to make a change to the recently announced team, with 18th man Campbell Graham ruled out due to a sternum injury.
But, the biggest shake up, and one that has our New South Wales mates rattled, is the inclusion of Tevita Pangai Jnr, at the expense of the injured Jake Trbojevic. A decision no one saw coming, while Josh Addo-Carr has been named to return after being surprisingly overlooked in last year’s series.
Our predictions (as in-the-know couch experts)
Queensland had a stellar year last year, taking the final game in a dramatic finish. But (there’s always a but), we can’t look past the inclusion of star Latrell Mitchell in for the Blues, with him he’ll bring a wealth of experience and skill into the Blues backline. Plus, Tom Trbojevic will add speed up and down the pitch the Blues need. The exclusion of Kayln Ponga might be a nail in the coffin for the Maroons.
So the Blues have our pick for game one, they’re also odds on favourites from sports experts (which we’ll continue to call ourselves).
So, when are the games on?
We’re glad you asked. The series kicks off with game one, at Adelaide Oval, Wednesday 31st of May.
Game two is heading to Queensland, taking place on Wednesday the 21st of June at Suncorp Stadium.
While the Blues will have the hometown advantage in the final, with the third game taking place on Wednesday 12 July at Accor Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park.