The tension is building before State of Origin game one at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night. Sports editor Tim Barrow at Mercury HQ speaks to league writer Adam Pengilly in Brisbane about the build up to the big game.
Barrow: How’s the buzz, the vibe, the atmosphere?
Pengilly: It’s a warm day up here, shorts and T-shirt weather, one thing they do well up in beautiful Brisvegas. It was actually really quiet in the city last night, but there are Maroon jumpers everywhere today and they’re all very confident of victory.
Barrow: So you’re wearing your lucky sky blue hot pants then?
Pengilly: Not quite, it’s awkward enough copping the looks just because I’m not wearing a Queensland jersey.
Barrow: Now the Blues are up in enemy territory, how have they handled the buildup?
Pengilly: (Coach) Laurie (Daley) was really relaxed when he spoke on Tuesday, it was a calm attitude, but that’s Laurie’s way. However, the attitude has been much more determined and focused throughout the camp at Coffs Harbour and up in Brisbane. There’s no doubt they’ve come here to get a result.
Barrow: What have the NSW squad done on game day?
Pengilly: They went for the team walk along the river up here as they usually do, assistant coach Matt Parish spoke to the media, then it’s really just about getting some quiet time to try and relax before the action starts.
Barrow: How do you think the Dragons players - Trent Merrin and Brett Morris - have handled the week, given Steve Price has been sacked back down here in the Gong?
Pengilly: It’s obviously a hard time for them, Merrin came through the under 20s under Price and he spoke about the shock of the announcement on Monday. He had a bit of a chat with Mary, before Paul McGregor went back to Wollongong to take charge for Monday’s game against Souths. But after that, they’ve turned their focus back to Origin and ending the years of disappointment.
Barrow: Will you walk down Caxton Street on the way to the game?
Pengilly: Of course, it’s the best way to soak in the atmosphere. On the way to cover the game last year, I was abused on the street for having a blue mobile phone cover when I was taking a picture of the crowds up here, that’s the level of hatred on the ground.
Barrow: Yeah, I wouldn’t be trying to have a beer at the Caxton on Origin day as a Blues fan - and you know I love a beer.
Pengilly: Exactly. It’s a safety hazard.
Barrow: Righto, so in Wednesday’s Mercury you made the case for why Queensland will win again, but what’s your tip for the big game? And who’s your first try-scorer and man-of-the-match?
Pengilly: Queensland by eight for me with NSW getting enough confidence out of a performance to make them a big chance of squaring the series back in Sydney. Johnathan Thurston for first try-scorer and Matt Scott as man of the match.
Barrow: Remember ‘94 when Laurie and the Blues ruined Mal’s last Origin party up there. Well they unveiled a statue of him at Suncorp Stadium today and in the 100th Origin (that’s including the one played in the USA), Daley will ruin the fun again. NSW by eight for me. Brett Morris first try-scorer and Robbie Farah the best out there in the Cauldron. Up the Blues.