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Ultimate Origin Preview: Game I

It's that time of the year again.

Club footy takes a back seat this week as the New South Wales Blues lock horns with the Queensland Maroons on Wednesday night, with the ultimate aim of wrestling the shield back after dramatically losing it last year.

The Maroons will have plenty of motivation themselves playing at home at Queensland Country Bank Stadium and will look to take a crucial step to retaining the shield for the first time since 2017.

With Daniel Saifiti flying the flag for the Knights in Townsville, we've broken everything down ahead of the big game.

This is your Ultimate Preview to State of Origin, Game I.


Date: Wednesday, June 9

Kick-off: 8:10pm AEDT

Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville


Played: 120

Queensland: 64

NSW: 54

Draws: 2



5. Valentine Holmes, 2. Xavier Coates, 3. Kurt Capewell, 4. Dane Gagai, 18. Kyle Feldt, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Christian Welch, 9. Harry Grant, 10. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. David Fifita, 13. Jai Arrow. Interchange: 14. AJ Brimson, 15. Jaydn Su'A, 16. Moeaki Fotuaika, 17. Joe Ofahengaue. Extended Bench: 20. Coen Hess, 21. Ben Hunt.

Coach: Paul Green

New South Wales

1. James Tedesco, 2. Brian To'o, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Tom Trbojevic, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Jarome Luai, 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Jake Trbojevic, 11. Cameron Murray, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Isaah Yeo. Interchange: 14. Jack Wighton, 15. Junior Paulo, 16. Payne Haas, 17. Liam Martin. Extended Bench: 18. Apisai Koroisau, 19. Campbell Graham.

Coach: Brad Fittler


For the opening game, Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga was originally selected at fullback for the Maroons but was a late withdrawal due to injury.

Valentine Holmes will play at fullback with Cowboys teammate Kyle Feldt set to make his Origin debut on the win in jersey 18.

Titans fullback, AJ Brimson, is racing the clock to be fit and has been named to come off the bench in jersey 14.

Brad Fittler has named three debutants for NSW, all from the Penrith Panthers.

Jarome Luai, Brian To'o and Liam Martin have been rewarded for their impressive form in helping guide Penrith to 12 straight wins to start the campaign.

Latrell Mitchell also returns to the side and lines up alongside Tom Trbojevic in the centres.


In a milestone first end-of-year series, an understrength Queensland team defeated New South Wales 2-1 to end the Blues' two-year streak.

The Maroons won Game I in Adelaide 18-14 before the Blues levelled the series with a 34-10 victory in Sydney.

A 20-14 result in front of a packed Suncorp Stadium in favour of the Maroons secured the series for Queensland.

Cameron Munster was awarded the Wally Lewis Medal for his performances.


After picking up the Blues' player's player award last year, Daniel Saifiti will look to again set the tone up front in this series.

Partnering Manly's Jake Trbojevic in the front-row, Saifiti will be tasked with belting the Queensland pack into submission in front of a hostile crowd in North Queensland.

'D-Saf' has become a mainstay of the NSW side since debuting in 2019, playing the last five Origins in a row.

The Knights co-skipper has stated publicly he is still hurting from last year's decider, and will truly be out to make amends this time around.


Harry Grant has been named in the Maroons squad despite not playing since Round 9. The Melbourne rake averages 92 metres out of dummy half and has clocked five try assists in as many games this year.

For reference, that's 30 metres more than his opposite number, Damien Cook.


New South Wales enter this game with no less than three full-time fullbacks in their squad in James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic.

All three players have been in fine form for their Clubs, with 19 tries between them in 2021.


Zac Nissen - Knights Content Producer (NSW fan)

Across the park, the Blues have far too much strike.

Tommy Turbo, Tedesco and Nathan Cleary are three of the best players in the world, not to mention D-Saf setting the tone up front.

The Blues will be hurting after last year and determined to make amends. I truly believe that spells trouble for the Maroons.

Not even a full-house in Townsville will save them from the incoming Blues onslaught.


James Ward - Knights Media Assistant (QLD fan)

Queenslanders love being the underdogs and will relish their status yet again this year.

Cameron Munster takes his game to a new level come Origin time and the forward pack will make sure they roll forward and win the battle with the likes of Fifita, Kaufusi and Fa'asuamaleaui.

Queensland will also have an 18th man with the plenty of support they will receive at a packed out Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

The Maroons to go back-to-back in 2021, with a win in Game I to get the ball rolling.