State of Origin: NSW Blues can end Queensland dominance

NSW coach Laurie Daley and Trent Hodkinson chat during a training session at Coffs Harbour on Thursday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

NSW coach Laurie Daley and Trent Hodkinson chat during a training session at Coffs Harbour on Thursday. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

RUGBY LEAGUE

Let's be clear, this is definitely a NSW squad capable of stopping Queensland.

The NSW team has been picked on form, none more so than the Bulldogs halves who've been the best combination of the competition.

They play together every week but the really good thing about them is that they're different. Hodkinson is pretty calm under pressure and doesn't get rattled - which is important in Origin - and Reynolds chases everything and always puts himself right in the game.

The fact they're so different makes them such a good pair in a team strong on combinations, with Michael Jennings and Daniel Tupou from the Roosters on one side and the Morris boys on the other.

In the pressure of State of Origin those combinations are important, and the selectors wouldn't have gone that way if they didn't think it could be an advantage against this very experienced Queensland side.

There's been plenty of talk about the new halves and the backline but Origin games are won in the middle and NSW have picked a great forward pack.

It's big, fast and mobile and will be well supported by the bench of Trent Merrin, Luke Lewis, Tony Williams and Anthony Watmough.

The bench is all important in today's game and we won't lose any impact when those guys come on to the field.

Most of all it's a group of guys who are just sick of losing.

If people think all this talk of eight in a row doesn't affect them, I can tell you that they're wrong.

It motivates them and this is a highly-motivated side that's had enough of losing.

A lot has been made of the Queensland team announcement, with some suggesting it might have been over the top, but when you've won eight series in a row you can please yourself with what you do and say.

Irrespective of what anyone says before a game, it doesn't change anything that happens out there on game night.

We've spent far too long looking at Queensland and worrying about what they're doing anyway.

That's why Laurie Daley's decision to move the camp up to Coffs Harbour is a good move. The first sign of madness is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result, and we've been hanging around the same places and doing the same sort of things for long enough.

After eight series losses we needed to do something different.

It's just concentrating on footy and everything is geared towards us and what we need to do to win the game on Wednesday.

There's no booze ban in place, but most of the players have chosen not to drink to try to give themselves the best possible chance to win the game.

Coming from the players themselves and not the coach, it's an encouraging sign and shows just how focused the boys are on winning this series.

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THERE'S been some concern that game one at Suncorp Stadium won't be a sell-out, but I've got no doubt it'll be a packed house on Wednesday.

When you pack stadiums out in 10 minutes like they have the last couple of years they expect people to jump on it again, but they've come to their senses and come up with some cheaper tickets.

The fact we'll be witnessing the 100th Origin is quite remarkable.

A lot of people said when the concept kicked off that it was just a gimmick. For it to last 100 games and become what it has, is amazing.

And it'll last another 100!

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