It looks a little different this year but you can be sure, once it kicks off, the 2020 State of Origin series will be as fiery as ever.Brad Fittler’s Blues have won the past two series and will be the hot favourites going into this year’s season-ending edition.But, as we’ve seen before, Queensland absolutely love it when their backs are to the wall and now they’ve got Wayne Bennett to give them a rev up.

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Squad size has been increased to 27 this year, with the teams to remain in their bubbles for the duration of the series.The timing means plenty of big names, particularly for the Maroons, are sidelined with injury, as both coaches look set to blood some debutants.

TEAMS GAME I

NSW Blues: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Clint Gutherson* 4. Jack Wighton 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Luke Keary* 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Junior Paulo* 11. Boyd Cordner (c) 12. Tyson Frizell 13. Jake Trbojevic Interchange: 14. Cody Walker 15. Payne Haas 16. Cameron Murray 17. Angus Crichton

QLD Maroons: 1. AJ Brimson* 2. Xavier Coates* 3. Brenko Lee* 4. Dane Gagai 5. Phillip Sami* 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c) 8. Christian Welch 9. Jake Friend* 10. Josh Papalii 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Coen Hess 13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui* Interchange: 14. Ben Hunt 15. Lindsay Collins* 16. Jai Arrow 17. Jaydn Su’A*

 

NSW Blues 27-man squad:

10 players yet to wear a Blues jersey have been named in Fittler’s squad, while there is also a wealth of experience among the 27.Incumbent halfback Nathan Cleary is expected to play game one despite Penrith’s grand final loss, while it remains to be seen who will assume the five-eighth position.Fittler has selected Luke Keary, Cody Walker and Jarome Luai in the squad, while Jack Wighton also plays there at club level but is expected to start at left centre as he did in 2019.Fullback and last year’s Brad Fittler Medalist James Tedesco was under an injury cloud and rated a 50-50 chance of suiting up for the series opener in Adelaide.Ryan Papenhuyzen was in line to replace Tedesco if he was ruled out, though the Storm flyer has succumbed to a calf strain.Fortunately for Fittler, Tedesco made it through training on Saturday and looks set to take his place in the team.

 

Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm), Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Parramatta Eels), Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers), Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters), Nick Cotric (Canberra Raiders), Angus Crichton (Sydney Roosters), Stephen Crichton (Penrith Panthers), Dale Finucane (Melbourne Storm), Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons), Clint Gutherson (Parramatta Eels), Payne Haas (Brisbane Broncos), Luke Keary (Sydney Roosters), Zac Lomax (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jarome Luai (Penrith Panthers), Cameron McInnes (St George Illawarra Dragons), Cameron Murray (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Ryan Papenhuyzen (Melbourne Storm), Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels), Daniel Saifiti (Newcastle Knights), James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters), Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles), Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters), Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Jack Wighton (Canberra Raiders), Isaah Yeo (Penrith Panthers).

Queensland Maroons 27-man squad:

Injuries to the likes of Kalyn Ponga, David Fifita, Kyle Feldt, Dylan Napa and more have presented the opportunity for a host of first-timers in Bennett’s squad/17 of the 27 are yet to taste Origin action.Through the spine, AJ Brimson is set to replace Ponga at fullback, while Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans will combine for a formidable pairing the halves.Incumbent hooker Ben Hunt will battle it out with Harry Grant and Jake Friend for a place in the starting 13 this year.

Jai Arrow (Gold Coast Titans), AJ Brimson (Gold Coast Titans), Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), Phillip Sami (Gold Coast Titans), Edrick Lee (Newcastle Knights), Hymel Hunt (Newcastle Knights), Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys), Coen Hess (North Queensland Cowboys), Xavier Coates (Brisbane Broncos), Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos), Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), Josh Kerr (St George Illawarra Dragons), Harry Grant (Wests Tigers / Melbourne Storm), Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles), Jake Friend (Sydney Roosters), Lindsay Collins (Sydney Roosters), Jaydn Su’A (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Corey Allan (South Sydney, Rabbitohs), Dane Gagai (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Dunamis Lui (Canberra Raiders), Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders), Kurt Capewell (Penrith Panthers), Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Melbourne Storm), Brenko Lee (Melbourne Storm), Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm), Christian Welch (Melbourne Storm), Felise Kaufusi (Melbourne Storm).

2020 State of Origin dates

GAME 1 – Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

Wednesday, November 4

GAME 2 – ANZ Stadium, Sydney

Wednesday, November 11

GAME 3 – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Wednesday, November 18

NSW legend and Channel Nine commentator Peter Sterling

NSW Blues vs QLD Maroons rugby Live The Blues will rightly start favourites for this year’s series, and they go in as a much more experienced side than Queensland.So many of the NSW line-up have been there before in comparison with the Queensland side while even the Blues’ Origin rookies are mostly experienced at NRL level with plenty of big-game experience and strong 2020 form behind them The depth of the squad is also far better than for Queensland.If you look at key players, the 1-6-7-9, Queensland are pretty strong there with Cherry-Evans and Munster in the halves. Friend is a very experienced player at NRL level but he and Brimson are both Origin rookies.But if you look at NSW, even though Keary has yet to play Origin, all three of Tedesco, Cleary and Cook are very established at this level and just about the best players in their respective positions so NSW are very well placed in terms of playmakers.

GAME 1 – WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER Kick off

Blues
Maroons

Then you look at the coaches. It’s been quite a while since Wayne Bennett has coached at Origin level; I’m certainly not saying he’s lost it by any stretch but Fittler and his crew have had great success the last two years.

They will get great confidence from what they’ve done and NSW have a new mentality about them.

That is shown by the way they scored the winning try in last year’s series; I’m not sure if NSW teams in the past would have been brave enough to go for it the way the Blues did last year and that’s a reflection of the way they’re coached. Fittler has a very simple philosophy – he just wants his team to play.That shows in the way he approaches the game, which is the same way he approached it as a player. He lets their talent and ability come to fore and encourages them to play that way and it’s served them very well Although they did it the hard way last year in game one, there have been some really strong advances in their style in regards to the way NSW play Origin under Fittler’s coaching.They play with a real Origin mentality – you want your team to be as good in the 80th minutes as the eighth. Keary sees ‘cool calm’ Cleary-Cronk likeness He’s really on top of things with the way he prepares the side and his selection process too. NSW have made big improvements there in the way form has been rewarded Incumbency is still important but it’s certainly not the be-all and end-all. It’s been quite refreshing what’s happened the last two years with NSW and hopefully it continues for a while yet. They’re poised to make it three series in a row which hasn’t happened for quite a while.

Against

NRL.com reporter Chris Kennedy

This is what Origin is all about and Queensland are right where they want to be – written off and with their backs to the wall.Forget about the 13 years the Maroons were all but invincible and forget about the dominance of the free-wheeling Blues for the few years prior to that. This is Queensland in the ’80s, this is the fabric of Origin.Wayne Bennett and Mal Meninga at the helm, a group of players thrown together, some with less than a year in first grade, others plucked virtually from reserve grade.The Blues won just two series in the first decade of Origin’s existence and it’s not because the Maroons had a superior team on paper every year.NSW will rightly start favourites. They have won the past two series, they have the experience, they have the form, they have the depth. But Queensland have the history.They have 1995, when Fatty’s Nobodies sprung one of the greatest upsets in Origin history. Shredded by the absence of all their superstar Super League-aligned players, rookie coach Paul Vautin guided Queensland to a miraculous 3-0 series sweep.

 

They have 2001; coming off their worst-ever Origin loss they brought back Bennett and he turned the team list on its head with nine debutants, from future legend Petero Civoniceva to unheralded Cowboy John Doyle, from tyro Carl Webb to speedster Chris Walker, to engineer one of the most remarkable Origin series wins of all time.That Bennett-Meninga combination is a potent one. Meninga was part of that incredible Maroons generation alongside Wally Lewis, Allan Langer, Vautin, Chris Close, Colin Scott, Greg Dowling and Greg Conescu before coaching the greatest Origin side ever to eight straight wins while Bennett only lost one more series from five after going down 3-0 in his 1987 Origin coaching debut.

A greater Origin coaching dream team you could not assemble.

And let’s not forget this Maroons squad is better than people are giving it credit for. Yes, Kalyn Ponga and Michael Morgan head a host of unavailable backline stars, including likely starters Val Holmes (for game one) and Corey Allan plus Kyle Feldt, Corey Oates and Moses Mbye, which leaves the three-quarter line looking skinny.But Cherry-Evans and Munster are the current Kangaroos halves, and Munster is one of five players in the starting 13 who just won a grand final with Melbourne.Fullback AJ Brimson was one of the form players in the NRL through the second half of the season, Josh Papalii was the game’s best prop this year, and the likes of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Lindsay Collins will bring the fire and brimstone.