QLD Maroons vs NSW Blues
Wednesday’s State Of Origin Game 1 match is between QLD Maroons and NSW Blues. The opening kick is set to commence at 20:10 local time with the game to be played at Suncorp Stadium. The away team NSW Blues are the favourites for the match. View our preview and teams for the game between QLD Maroons and NSW Blues.
When: 20:10 | Wednesday 31/05/2017
Where: Suncorp Stadium
Watch: Channel 7
Tonight’s match is shaping up to be an absolute cracking match. QLD opened as the favourites with all bookmakers but the support for NSW has been constant which has seen them take favouritism. The Blues team looks on paper just as good if not better than QLD’s which is probably the first time we are saying this in the past 4-5 years.
The Blues will be looking to notch a win back from the dominant QLDers and this year looks to be their best chance and a win at Suncorp tonight is pivotal.
NEW South Wales utility Jack Bird pulled Blues adviser Peter Sterling to the side after training this week to get a clear picture of how he’ll be used in Wednesday’s State of Origin.
Able to fill several positions from centre, backrow, lock and five-eighth, the Cronulla gun was training in the foreign role of hooker earlier in the week.
Hooker is a position Bird’s never played at any level in his career.
But when Nathan Peats’ hamstring pulled up a little tight during their second training run, Bird was thrust into the action.
It led to him seeking Sterling for a quiet word after the session.
“It was the second training run. I slotted in at hooker because I wasn’t subbing in in the middle — it was left verses right so I went into hooker,” Bird said.
“I spoke to Sterlo about it afterwards and said ‘where do you think I’ll be slotting in?’
“He said I’ll probably run on in the middle as a lock and that’s something I’m looking forward to.”
With Tyson Frizell moving from lock to start of the right edge on Wednesday, Josh Jackson is expected to play lock to start the game.
Frizell will be used as a battering ram against Queensland rookie Anthony Milford and with Nathan Peats unlikely to play 80 minutes, Blues coach Laurie Daley could make two changes in order to give Peats a breather.
Jackson has been discussed as a hooking replacement for Peats which would pave the way for Bird to come on as a ball playing lock.
While rake isn’t a role he feels comfortable in, Bird said that when it comes to the Blues he’ll fill any position Daley asks of him.
“I’d prefer to play in the middle, in lock (rather) than hooker,” he said.
“I’m not quite sure what my passing skills are from the ground, but if I have to play there I will.”
With two Origins to his name, Bird is yet to start a game for the Blues.
He was named in the starting side in jersey No.6 for game three last year but was a late omission to the bench in favour of Matt Moylan.
Bird admits that at times it can be frustrating filling the utility role but also acknowledged that his versatility opened the door for his Origin selection.
“I’m lucky I can play any position,” he said.
“Sometimes I think the utility gets me into these kinds of teams because if I was playing centre I might not be playing.
“I’ve got the utility mark next to my name but as time goes on I’d probably prefer to lock down one position.
“Utility brings a lot to the game these days but sometimes you just want to play one position and stay there instead of moving all over the joint so it’s a bit different. I can play every position which is probably why I’m the utility.”
Acknowledging the similarities between him and his Sharks teammate Luke Lewis, Bird is poised to carve out a long and successful career in the game.
Lewis, turning 34 in August, has filled every position except for front row during his illustrious career.
Lewis made 17 appearances for the Blues and Bird is using the backrower as a blueprint for how to approach his changeability.
“I try and take a piece out of his book,” Bird said.
“I look at Lewy and see what he’s became and hopefully I can become what he has.”
Queensland will honour fallen police officer Brett Forte before they clash with NSW in the series opener.
Forte, a proud Queenslander, was tragically gunned down on Monday by Rick Maddison who also died following a shootout with police.
A minute’s silence will be observed before the game at Suncorp Stadium and the Maroons will also wear a special mark of respect on their team suits.
“It’s a really sad occasion for his family and friends, but we’re going to honour him by wearing the police ribbon on our suits to the game,” Maroons assistant coach Anthony Siebold said.
FOLLOW ALL THE GAME DAY COVERAGE IN THE BLOG BELOW!
BLUES’ PEATS PLAN
NSW assistant coach John Cartwright confirmed there is no strict plan for the hooking rotation, with rookie rake Nathan Peats’ minutes to be determined by the game.
Peats averages 77 minutes per game in his five outings for the Gold Coast this season.
While the Titans gun is capable of producing an 80 minute effort, the Blues are likely to call on Josh Jackson and Wade Graham to spend a stint in hooker, while Jack Bird also trained in the role.
For all the post-match reaction to Origin I, tune into the Bill & Boz Origin Special live tonight from 10.30pm on Fox Sports News 500!