Christmas is a time for reflection and, today, we reflect once more on the State of Origin Rugby series just gone. Is the power shift for real this time?
Origin history dictates that the occasional surprise win is inevitable but can the Blues now enjoy a period dominance akin to 1992-2005, after their Origin triumph earlier in the year? Current bookmaker odds of around 4/9 (or 1.44) in favour of the Blues for 2019 suggest so but there has been false hope before.
The Blues took the 2014 series 2-1, despite being outsiders on betting sites, riding their defense to a pair of low scoring wins before being dominated in Game 3. The 2015 series was then tied at one win apiece heading into the decider at Suncorp. With New South Wales seemingly on the cusp of taking over the series, Queensland responded with a 52-6 blowout which was every bit as lopsided as it sounds.
The Maroons had asserted their superiority again, continuing their own (more emphatic) period of dominance over a decade:
This time feels different
Queensland has simply lost so many players from its dominant sides of the last decade, while the Blues have shifted to a youth movement the likes of which has never before been seen at representative level. Game 1 of the 2018 series saw the Blues send out no less than 11 players to debut, causing the rush to back the Maroons on betting sites become even more intensive than usual.
The addition of Tom Trbojevic, Josh Addo-Carr, and Latrell Mitchell to the Blues lineup gives them a speed edge over the Maroons, and one which can only increase over the next couple of seasons. In turn, sports betting sites that offer free bets should also experience a surge in their offers being used on NSW sweeps, rather than Queensland landslides, but the list of potential game-changing luminaries in the 2020s does not stop there.
In James Tedesco, NSW also have the most (or at least second-most) impressive fullback in the competition, whose skills are perhaps equaled only by Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Meanwhile, Damien Cook (shown below) gives the Blues electric speed out of dummy half that is hard to contain.
Room for sobriety
There is undoubtedly talent on the Maroons’ side. For instance, one should expect Kalyn Ponga to be a big player for Queensland over the next decade. Yet, with the exception of Greg Inglis in the centre, the type of star power that carried Queensland to series win after series win in recent times has gone.
Ultimately, the series could go either way from here, as it could well have done this year. We could easily see the Blues usher in their own era of dominance, but it is also fair to ask if they have the halves for that if (or indeed, when) the ageless Jimmy Maloney hits his personal wall. At the very worst, it feels like Origin is now set for a period where every game – and every series – will be gripping, gritty, and come down to big individuals efforts to decide the outcome.
The difference is that it now feels like the Blues have more players than the Maroons to provide those efforts.
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