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State of Origin 2022 game 1 time, kick-off, tv: NSW v QLD teams, how to watch


It’s a little known statistic, but could end up giving Nathan Cleary and NSW nightmares. Find out where Game 1 will be won and lost and follow all the build up to the game here.

It’s the little known statistic that until now has not been mentioned throughout this Origin build up, but could end up giving Nathan Cleary and NSW nightmares in Wednesday night’s blockbuster series opener.

Here Paul Crawley breaks down five key match-ups, revealing a key defence in Queensland’s arsenal that could help shut down one of NSW’s greatest attacking weapons.

Stream the FOX LEAGUE State of Origin Game 1 REPLAY on Kayo with no ads during play. Both full and condensed replays available from 11PM AEST Wednesday. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.

BRAD FITTLER V BILLY SLATER

Timing can be everything in rugby league. When Brad Fittler took charge of NSW he arrived as Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk had just retired from Origin, while Billy Slater was in his final year (and missed the opening game of 2018). Couple that with arguably NSW’s greatest team ever assembled and it’s a big part of the reason why Freddy now owns one of Origin’s greatest coaching records (three series wins from four attempts).

But now Slater arrives in his rookie year in charge and it’s the Blues missing two of their most potent attacking weapons from last year in Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic, while Queensland has also put together a side most rate their best since those glory days.

Make no mistake, even though this is Slater’s first coaching gig, the intensity up a level for Freddy this year _ because on paper very little now separates these teams. So who comes up with the best game plan will be vitally important, and don’t forget Slater also has his former partners in crime Smith and Thurston now on his coaching staff.

CLEARY AND LUAI V CHERRY-EVANS AND MUNSTER

Having a club combination in the halves is a huge advantage for the Blues, especially because the Penrith duo of Cleary and Jarome Luai are also rated the NRL’s best, and have the added bonus of the game’s best ball playing 13 in Isaah Yeo who also plays for the Panthers.

Cleary and Luai had to two games together for NSW last year and won both. For Queensland, Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans have won five and lost three as an Origin halves pairing, but did get toweled up last year before Cleary and Luai both missed game three. This year Cherry-Evans’s club form has been hot and cold, but at his best he’s a champion playmaker. While Munster at his best is probably better than all of them, but he has been known to have an off day, which Queensland can’t afford here.

QUEENSLAND’S KICK PRESSURE V CLEARY’S BOOT

Any time Cleary has an off day it’s almost always because of kick pressure, and this is where one of Queensland’s hidden strengths could be crucial. Even with Christian Welch out injured, Fox Sports Stats reveal that Kurt Capewell, Jeremiah Nanai and Lindsay Collins all rank up among the NRL’s elite in this particular area.

This is a stat no one has mentioned until now, but you can bet the crafty Slater would know all about it, because attention to detail has always been one of his great strengths.

Capewell, who marks up opposite Cleary, ranks third in the NRL with 28 kick pressures this year, while Nanai is second with 28 behind only Blayke Brailey. This is also where Ben Hunt at hooker will need to be on alert and do what Brailey does so well for the Sharks. Throw in Collins who has contacted the kicker the most of any player this year (11). It all points to Cleary being the most marked man on the field. How much the ref allow NSW to protect him – and Queensland to push the boundaries – could have massive ramifications, like they did in last year’s finals series.

BATTLE OF THE BIG MEN

Gorden Tallis always says forwards decide big games, the halves by how much. Here we have four monster starting props, all extremely hard to handle, and all in terrific form. Crunching the numbers, Payne Haas is way out in front for metres this year, averaging 17 runs for 163m, while fellow Blues bookend Junior Paulo averages 12 runs for 113m, but Paulo has 21 offloads to Haas’s 13.

In comparison, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui averages 14 runs for 131m with only six offloads, while Josh Papali’i averages 12 runs for 114m with 21 offloads. We all know Origin is a different beast because there will be no easy metres, but that only makes the job for these four all the more important.

TEDDY V PONGA – WHO WILL BE NO 1?

There’s been a tremendous focus already throughout the build up relating to the match-ups on the wings – with Queensland young guns Selwyn Cobbo and Xavier Coates up against Brian To’o and the returning Daniel Tupou.

But don’t forget the most important members of every team’s back three _ the fullbacks.

Blues skipper James Tedesco singled his Origin intentions with a dynamite performance in his most recent game for the Roosters when he tore the Sharks to shreds. While since sorting out his contract Kalyn Ponga has been outstanding for the Knights, and always plays well in a Queensland jumper. Come Thursday morning we will all look back at the performance of these two as being key to the result, whichever way it pans out.

QUEENSLAND PUMP UP X-FACTOR SBW CLONE

Daly Cherry-Evans has labelled Jeremiah Nanai the Maroons’ X-factor with the skipper revealing his tactical plan to unleash Queensland’s version of Sonny Bill Williams in Wednesday night’s Origin opener.

Nanai has come from the clouds to clinch an Origin debut and will be inspired by the many years in which he tried to emulate his hero Sonny Bill when the 19-year-old faces the Blues at Sydney’s Accor Stadium.

Virtually unknown just 12 months ago, Nanai has taken the NRL by storm this season, scoring 10 tries from 12 appearances, including a number of spectacular four-pointers soaring above his opponents to win the contest for high kicks.

Jumping Jeremiah is a scoring weapon for Queensland off the interchange bench _ and Cherry-Evans plans to capitalise on his Leap of Faith the second the Cowboys teenager enters the fray in Origin I.

“Jeremiah is our X factor,” Cherry-Evans said.

“I can’t wait to see what he brings in his debut. He has been playing great footy for the Cowboys and what makes him dangerous is he provides different tryscoring opportunities for any team he plays in.

“He can break a game open in more ways than one and I can play a role in that.

“He has scored some unbelievable tries off kicks so I will be looking to put a few up in the air for him and hopefully watch him take off.”

Nanai brings a unique skill set to the Maroons. The 186cm, 104kg back-rower is not tough and capable of a high defensive output, but Nanai has an uncanny awareness that invariably puts him in tryscoring and match-winning situations.

TASTE OF THE BLUES

The official beer of the Blues, Tooheys New, has paid tribute to NSW with the limited-edition release of special State of Origin-inspired cans.

Designed by Sydney artist Kentaro Yoshida, the cans feature footy-inspired illustrations and images of NSW towns and landmarks – Gundagai’s dog on the tuckerbox, Goulburn’s Big Merino and Western Sydney, the area which has produced 11 players in the Blues’ squad.

The can is emblazoned with iconic Blues moments, like a bloodied Benny Elias celebrating the series-opening 1992 victory with his mum, Barbara, and Brad Fittler’s 2004 Origin swan song.

Blues players also fed into the design of the can by sharing the towns and communities with particular meaning to them, such as Western Sydney, Albury and Lismore.

NO RABS, ICONIC SEGMENT SCRAPPED

Channel Nine’s State of Origin coverage for tonight’s blockbuster will have a very different look and feel.

On the back of legendary caller Ray Warren’s retirement, Phil Gould’s iconic “final word” segment has been scrapped.

Gould confirmed the news on Twitter this afternoon.

The Bulldogs head of football performed the segment last year with a Game of Thrones theme (video below).

Mathew Thompson will commentate his first Origin in place of Warren to an estimated three to three-and-a-half million viewers.

ABDO OUT: COVID HITS NRL CEO

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo is unable to attend tonight’s State of Origin blockbuster due to Covid.

Abdo contracted the virus last weekend and is now isolated at his home.

The NRL boss told The Daily Telegraph he is feeling well and is showing no symptoms of concern.

Covid has threatened both camps in the lead up to Game 1 with Latrell Mitchell now certain to miss the second game of the series, but better news this morning for the Blues with Brad Fittler confirming everyone had come through late tests.

“It’s all good. I’m a bit concerned, through all the clubs there’s a lot of flu, a bit of COVID-19, the flu’s been knocking them around,” he said.

“There have been no injuries and everyone’s in good health. It’s always a nice thing being the coach and knowing that.”

BLUE BRONCO WILL HAVE ‘NAN’ ON HIS MIND

The grandmother who helped raise Kotoni Staggs will be watching State of Origin I from above, sipping a Tooheys New, and telling “go my boy”.

That is what Staggs’ uncle, Trent, said about his mother, Dawn, who played a major role in Kotoni’s challenging upbringing in central NSW.

Staggs choked back tears when Trent handed him a Blues jersey at an emotional NSW jersey presentation on Monday night.

Trent spoke about the influence and love offered by Kotoni’s ‘nan’, who helped raise young Staggs in Wellington, near Dubbo.

Staggs’ Wellington Cowboys junior coach Aidan Ryan was also invited to the jumper presentation. Aidan and Kotoni combined to win a premiership in the under 18s competition.

Families from the four NSW debutants – Staggs, Stephen Crichton, Ryan Matterson and 18th man, Nicho Hynes – handed out the jumpers at a heartwarming and moral building presentation night at Sydney Olympic Park.

STATE OF ORIGIN GAME 1 STARTS AT 8PM AEST

“Nan would be so proud,” Trent told Kotoni before his NSW teammates.

Dawn, who died in October, 2019, helped raise Staggs when his mother, Leanne, was twice jailed.

Asked whether Dawn would be proud looking down on Kotoni, Trent told The Daily Telegraph: “She would be up there having a drink, getting right on it. She’d be having a Tooheys New and yelling out: ‘Go my boy’.

“I told him at the jumper presentation that he had finally made it and that everyone from back home is so proud – all the young kids, the family and his nan, who is my mum, would be very proud.

“Hopefully Kotoni goes out there and represents the family on Wednesday night and gets a win for the nan he loves dearly.

“Kotoni’s nan helped him while his mum was going through a tough time. She’s had a rough trot but we all do at times in life.

“But his mum always made sure Kotoni had new clothes on his back and food on the table. She wasn’t too bad herself, she was good for us.

“When his nan was alive, Kotoni would always tell her that he was going to make it and now he has finally done that.

“It was an awesome night presenting the jumpers. Kotoni was trying to hold back tears. I think we all were. I knew he would make it and I am so proud. Proud is understatement.”

Trent will attend Wednesday night’s game, declaring: “I wouldn’t miss it. I will be there cheering him on.”

Also at the jumper presentation was Ryan Matterson’s family – dad Paul, mum Sondra and brother Dean.

Speaking to teammates on the night, Matterson said: “You are brothers to me, we have a job to do.”

Nicho’s Hynes family – including dad, Mick, stepmother Lisa, mum Julie and brother Wade – presented his jumper. Mick told how of his parental pride.

Hynes said he wanted to slowly, year by year, work his way into the NSW side.

“I wanted to be one number lower than last year. Last year I was 19 and now I’m in jumper 18,” Hynes said.

WHERE OPENER WILL BE WON AND LOST

Fox Sports experts Corey Parker, Michael Ennis and Braith Anasta break down where the opening game of the series will be won and lost

COREY PARKER

What’s the key to beating NSW?

Queensland has to narrow its focus on the small things in the game like effort areas and your ability to work for your teammates. They have to play the long game. Origin is won on moments and individual brilliance at different stages, but more importantly it’s won on that desire to take your body to a place that it doesn’t want to go. When your time comes, and there will be a time for different people at different stages, you have to be there to take it.

What’s QLD’s greatest strength?

The Maroons’ greatest strength at the moment is their unpredictability with the youth. When you have more experienced people, you understand the types of plays they come up with and like to lean on. When you look at guys like Reuben Cotter, Selwyn Cobbo and Jeremiah Nanai, there are a lot of unknowns. You throw Xavier Coates and Cameron Munster in and there’s a real unpredictability about what they might come up with at different stages, which is a real bonus.

What’s QLD’s greatest weakness?

On the flip side, inexperience can cost you in the Origin arena. While youth and flair can be a strong suit, it can also be a weak point given they haven’t been part of that arena. How are they going to react when the bright lights come on? They don’t know yet. There will be 80,000 NSW fans screaming at them in a high-pressure game. From what we’ve seen in the NRL, you can assume they will be okay but you just don’t know.

Who will be QLD’s X-factor and why?

The Maroons have a few different X-factors. Munster is the first guy that comes to mind given what we have seen from him this year and in previous Origin series. Then there are guys like Ben Hunt and Harry Grant, who can provide plenty of impact. Grant was dynamic in his Origin debut off the bench and has changed games for Melbourne from the interchange. There is so much excitement and enthusiasm in guys like Cobbo and Nanai that can do something special, but Munster is the main man for the Maroons.

MICHAEL ENNIS

What’s the key to beating QLD?

“NSW have the game’s best halfback in Nathan Cleary and his combination with Isaah Yeo – who really links that power game of the Blues pack – is a real strength. That combination will be huge in terms of being able to move the ball and isolate Queensland edge defenders. If you look at the way Penrith play, they have a real ability to hold and drag in defenders in the middle of the field, isolate defenders out wide – it’s something NSW are going to really benefit from by having Yeo and Cleary there.”

Greatest strength of NSW?

“Again, the form of Cleary and Yeo, who will touch the ball more than anyone but Damien Cook. They will be so influential in the way NSW plays. Yeo’s ability to read the game at the moment, the way he’s evolved, is phenomenal. So knowing when to carry and generate momentum for Cook and Cleary to play off the back of will be huge. Same with his pass selection.”

Greatest weakness of NSW?

“It’s hard to find one. The only weakness I can see is the potential of NSW thinking they will get it done because they’re playing at home. Queensland will come down here ready to go. So the Blues will really need to out compete the Maroons in all the little areas – kick chase, kick pressure, getting out from marker, winning the early tackles. Everyone knows how important that first game is and I really do think NSW will be right up for it.”

Who will be NSW X-factor and why?

“I think everyone in the State is looking forward to watching Kotoni Staggs play. I think there’s something in amongst what he brings to a footy game that we just can’t wait to see. When you watch those moments where he’s so powerful, so dynamic and quick off the mark, where he’s blowing blokes away on the outside with that fend … I think every Blues fan is wanting see that.”

BRAITH ANASTA

What’s the key to beating QLD?

The key to beating the Maroons is winning the field position battle. NSW needs to stop their back three from making inroads. I think this battle will largely be decided on plays one, two and three. The Blues will need to stop Queensland big wingers and ;limit the impact they have at the start of sets.

What’s NSW’s greatest strength?

It’s the combination they have in the halves. Cleary and Luai will take what they are doing at club level and bring it to NSW. The rest of the Penrith connection will also play a huge part.

What’s NSW’s weakness?

I would say it is the uncertainty surrounding the outside backs after Latrell and Tom were ruled out. I am worried that they are a little unsure about a couple of their selections.

Who will be NSW’s X-factor and why?

Teddy (James Tedesco). I can’t go past him. He is the ultimate big game player. If he gets man of the match then NSW’s wins.

***

The NRL are going all-out to launch tonight’s State of Origin opener.

Every player tonight will be introduced onto the field in the shape of a special 3D laser profile.

The life-size profiles of the NSW and Queensland players will be beamed onto the field just moments before kick-off.

***

The NSW Blues have a secret weapon tonight – Bruce the Blue Healer.

Bruce, the Blues official mascot, will be led out onto Accor Stadium tonight accompanied by former NSW captain Boyd Cordner holding the Origin shield.

Bruce resides at RuffTrack Farm at Riverstone in Sydney’s northwest after the NSWRL struck a partnership with the youth-based program that will see Bruce work as a ‘therapy dog’ with disengaged youth (13-17 years) to provide them with valuable skills to re-engage in the community.

MAROON MULLETS MEAN BUSINESS

Maroons hardman Josh Papalii is ready to hand the baton over to Queensland’s next generation of mullet-rocking enforcers Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Reuben Cotter.

Papalii, 30, will make his 21st appearance for the Maroons in Wednesday night’s State of Origin series opener against NSW in Sydney when he goes toe-to-toe with Blues behemoth Junior Paulo.

The front row statesman is Queensland’s most experienced current player in the Origin arena, boasting one more game than 20-match milestone man Dane Gagai.

And Papalii admits his Maroons tenure is nearing its end, with every Origin battle becoming tougher than the last.

But while Papalii enters the twilight of his career, he isn’t worried about what the future holds for Queensland in the Maroons’ engine room.

Papalii can’t wait to run out alongside the fiery Fa’asuamaleaui again and is itching to see new lock Cotter in his Origin debut.

“I am definitely older and some games I feel it,” Papalii said.

“I’m taking it one game at a time. I’m not looking too far ahead.

“I can’t wait to play with these guys. It’s a unique combination.

“It starts with the middle. The middles determine whether you win the game or not and the backs just make sure how much you win it by.

“You’ve got Tino who is the workhorse and bigger body, then me and Cotter bring a bit of leg speed.

“Cotter is the X-factor in the middle. He just tackles all day. I can’t wait to play alongside them.”

If Papalii hadn’t cut his luscious locks recently, Queensland’s middle three would have all been sporting flowing mullets.

It’s a decision Papalii instantly regretted and his forward partners haven’t let it slip.

“When I first cut it I had instant regret,” Papalii said.

“It’s gone now but I will grow it back. The boys have been giving it to me.

“The ratty (rat’s tail) is a waste of time. I should just cut it off.”

New Queensland coach Billy Slater has rated the battle in the middle as crucial to the Maroons’ chances of winning Game One.

Slater made a point of the Maroons being beaten in the middle third in the opening exchanges of last year’s series-opener, resulting in a record 50-6 thrashing in Townsville.

Playing his seventh Origin, Fa’asuamaleaui said that wouldn’t happen again.

“We’ve looked back at the footage of last year and it’s disappointing,” the Titans captain said.

“There are little areas we could have got right that would have changed that series last year. We’ve got to learn and move on. We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again this series.

“I just want to do my role for Queensland and my teammates around me – that’s to cart the ball up hard and tackle hard. I have to be aggressive through the middle.

“If you do the little things right, the big things will happen. I need to execute that.

“We are forming a combination. I’m so excited to play with these guys.

“Reuben is a workhorse and Papa is a beast. Hopefully we do a job for Queensland.”

EXPERTS TIPS, WHO WINS AND WHY

Phil Rothfield

NSW by seven

Man of the match: Nathan Cleary

First try: Kotoni Staggs

Who wins and why: Combinations are everything at this level. Having Cleary, Luai and Yeo is like Sterling, Kenny, Price or Stuart, Daley and Clyde from the old days.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

NSW by14

Man of the match Damien Cook

First try To’o

Who wins and why: Cook to run from dummy half in last 30 minutes against tired forwards

Peter Badel

Queensland by four

Man of the match: Cameron Munster

First try: Selwyn Cobbo

Who wins and why: Queensland’s spine is vastly improved. Debutants Reuben Cotter and Selwyn Cobbo will step up on the big stage.

David Riccio

NSW by one

Man of the match: James Tedesco

First try: Selwyn Cobbo

Who wins and why: The Blues — but only because they’re at home. This Queensland side is fast, powerful and absolute class through the spine.

Fatima Kdouh

NSW by 10

Man of the match: Kotoni Staggs

First try: Xavier Coates

Who wins and why: Blues. The homeground advantage in front of packed house will get NSW home.

Brent Read

Queensland by two

Man of the match: Kalyn Ponga

First try: Selwyn Cobbo

Who wins and why (10-15 words): Queensland win because they have arguably the form player in the game at moment in Cameron Munster. Billy Slater will also get the best out of Kalyn Ponga and the Maroons’ dynamic duo will get them home in a cliffhanger.

Michael Carayannis

NSW by four

Man of the match: Isaah Yeo

First try: Xavier Coates

Who wins and why: No Turbo, no Latrell but no worries for the Blues. Their forward pack will take it to a gallant Queensland side who will just fall short.

Paul Crawley

Queensland by eight

Man of the match: Cameron Munster

First try: Selwyn Cobbo

Who wins and why: This is Queensland’s best team in years and the Blues are without Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic

Travis Meyn

Queensland by six

Man of the match: Cameron Munster

First try: Xavier Coates

Who wins and why: The Maroons have picked their best team in years and will not want to let down Billy Slater in his Origin coaching debut.

James Phelps

NSW by four

Man of the match: Nathan Cleary

First try: Kotoni Staggs

Who wins and why: NSW to hold on in a thriller. Home-ground advantage — and Nathan Cleary — will get them over the line in a nailbiter.

Dean Ritchie

NSW by two

Man of the match: James Tedesco

First try: Xavier Coates

Who wins and why: NSW has too much big-game experience, class, calmness, physicality, aggression and an exquisite kicking game.

NSW AND QUEENSLAND PREMIERS BET THEIR BRIDGES

– By Robert Craddock and James O’Doherty

Queensland will turn the Sydney Harbour Bridge a blushing shade of Maroon if it wins the State of Origin series following a bet between rival premiers.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her NSW rival Dominic Perrottet have brought back the State of Origin bet which was occasionally activated when Gladys Berejiklian was NSW Premier.

“When Queensland wins the series, Premier Perrottet will light the famous Harbour Bridge in maroon,” Ms Palaszczuk told News Corp.

“In the unlikely event of a New South Wales series win the Story Bridge will turn blue.”

“Origin is more than a game. For 42 years its been mate against mate and state against state. I can’t wait to hear people call the famous Queenslander chant. And I am very much looking forward to seeing the Sydney Harbour Bridge turn Maroon after game three.’’

Perrottet said he has “no concerns” about the potential embarrassment for our iconic bridge, declaring the Blues will be triumphant.

“It’s hardly a fair bet given we’ll clinch the series, but in the very unlikely event the Blues don’t win, we’ll light up the Sydney Harbour Bridge in that awful maroon colour,” he said.

“When Queensland loses, they’ll turn the Story Bridge – a landmark basically no-one has ever heard of – beautiful sky blue.”

The Queensland Premier has form in welching on the traditional Origin bet between state leaders, much like how her government has failed to pay a hotel quarantine bill of about $30 million.

“To make sure they keep up their end of the deal, unlike with hotel quarantine, the Maroons’ hotel bill is payable upon check-in.”

‘BERMUDA TRIANGLE’ AWAITS MAROONS

This State of Origin series is a chance for some emerging players to create their own powerful storylines.

Will Selwyn Cobbo, who was playing for Wynnum-Manly only a season ago, be ready for the big time? Can NSW debutants Kotoni Staggs and Stephen Crichton break apart the game with a moment of magic?

Will the tireless Reuben Cotter, who has had two major knee reconstructions, continue his enchanting rise and become an anchorman of the next generation?

Queensland hold an edge of 22 series wins to 16 but since Origin football started in 1980 it has almost seemed that – the eight-in-a-row streak apart – the teams were joined together by an invisible rubber band.

Just when one team starts to sit high in the saddle with a couple of series wins in a row and people start dropping the “D’’ word (dynasty), the gravitational pull of the other team getting more desperate draws them back to earth.

There’s been a pleasant vibe of optimism around the Queensland camp since Billy Slater took over but the coldest hearted judges of all – the bookies – are not falling for it.

They have Queensland underdogs for the first game with historical facts – recent and ancient – shaping their thoughts. They remember that after NSW won the first two games last year the collective scoreline was 76-6.

True, this time around there’s no Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell but it’s still quite a gap to make up even though Queensland got a consolation victory in the last game.

And bookies are also aware that Queensland have won just nine of 29 games at Accor Stadium. Even when Queensland were white hot, that venue has always had a Bermuda Triangle feel to it for Queensland fans.

Origin has a different flavour these days. The era of Queensland and NSW trading shallow-but-still-fun insults across the border appears to be gone.

Covid has brought teams together and wiped away traditional boundaries. The losses don’t seem to sting as much.

There are times when it seems the victories are not celebrated with as much gusto – but a win over the Blues at Accor Stadium could change all that.

Originally published as State of Origin 2022 game 1 time, kick-off: NSW v QLD teams, how to watch



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