Wednesday night marks the 100th meeting between these two great foes, as Queensland strive for an historic 9 straight series victories over New South Wales.
Queensland will field all bar one of the 17 players that featured in Game 3 last year, with their only change being the injury forced omission of Sam Thaiday.
Conversely New South Wales name just 10 survivors from that 12-10 defeat, with their new halves pairing of Reynolds and Hodkinson being the 16th combination used since 2006.
Blues coach Laurie Daley has selected an aggressive pack with plenty of impact from the bench, as well as a tall, athletic backline who will no doubt pose an aerial threat to their opposition wingers.
Queensland is as you would expect however with a halfback and three back rowers on the bench, they appear to be a front rower short and may well be vulnerable through the middle as the game wears on.
A lot of responsibility will therefore fall on Matt Scott’s shoulders, as being the only specialist prop it will be up to him to lead from the front and make the hard yards necessary to unleash the Maroons exciting playmakers.
Given a quick look at the history, it will be imperative for NSW to get off to a fast start, as 11 of their last 12 victories have come after posting the first try of the match.
Should they fail to do this it could be a long night for the Blues, as during their 8yr reign Qld have won 17/24 matches played and 5/8 series openers.
Qld have also won the last 5 matches played at Suncorp Stadium, and have not lost a series opener in Brisbane since 2003.
In fact last year’s 18-10 Game 1 victory by the Blues was their first win in a series opener for 5 years.
Recent series openers have also been close, low scoring affairs, with the last three tallying 28pts or less.
It’s also interesting to note that the last 10 series openers have been decided by 10pts or less, so this further illustrated the close nature of these contests.
Taking everything into account it’s impossible to tip against Qld, although I do believe NSW will give their supporters a great sight here.
The class of the Maroons playmakers and established combinations will in my opinion be the deciding factor, and whilst the Blues will be game they just lack that killer punch to get the job done in front of what should be a hostile Queensland crowd.
For the exotics players, I’ll be having a small interest in Daniel Tupou for 1st Tryscorer as I believe the Blues will look to target the Qld backs in the air, and at 6ft 5 the young Roosters winger will provide a great target and be a genuine threat for his opposite number all night.
For Man of the Match it’s hard to go past the likes of Thurston or Cam Smith, however I’m going to take a punt on Matt Scott.
The Cowboys hard man has been in career best form of late, and he’ll have the huge responsibility of leading from the front and repelling the aggressive NSW pack in order for his teams outside backs to shine.
Queensland Winning Margin 1-12 at $2.85 with
1st Tryscorer: Daniel Tupou (NSW) at $13 with
MOTM: Matt Scott (Qld) at $17 with