The Maroons are expected to continue their dominance of their southern neighbours for the series-opening clash at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
The Blues’ attempt to wrench back the trophy they have not held since winning in 2005 will see them blood a new-look halves pairing – Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds, who play alongside one another at the Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL.
Opposing them in the halves will be superstar pairing Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, and Thurston said if the Blues halves are anything like their Maroons counterparts, it will take them some time to get suited to playing in the Origin theatre.
“It took a little while,” Thurston said, of his partnership with Cronk.
“My role had changed and he (Cronk) had been coming off the bench until then (2011),” Thurston said of Cronk.
“But now we get on very well. We’ve been on holidays together, gone away on end-of-season trips.
“We know each other’s game very well, each other’s strengths and try to work to them as much as possible.
“He keeps the boys very structured, gets the boys around the park well and I go off the back of that.”
Queensland centre Justin Hodges (ankle) is expected to be fit for game one.
The build-up to the Origin opener has been typically littered with trash talk, as Blues forward Paul Gallen referring to Queenslanders as having ‘two heads’.
Gallen’s remarks drew a tirade from Queensland hero Wally Lewis, who slammed the Cronulla man for being disrespectful and suggested Mal Meninga’s Maroons would not stoop to such lows despite their on-field dominance.
Lewis also took a swipe at NSW coach Laurie Daley’s decision to select two halves from the same NRL club, claiming the move seemed like a ‘mercy dash’.
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