State of Origin fever is spreading.

The Queensland Maroons headed south to Melbourne today to prepare for Game one of this year’s series, on May 23.

It’s the beginning of the end for Petero Civoniceva, who is playing his last series for his state.

Brock Taylor reports.


After 30 origin games and 10 years of service to the Queensland team, Civoniceva has earned the right to quit the game on his terms.

But such is the humility of the man, the decision to retire was based on what was best for the team.

Petero Civoniceva, Queensland Prop: “Making sure that I was playing good enough football to warrant selection and I guess after having a chat to Mal I thought it would be the right thing to do and now just looking forward to pulling that jersey on one last time.”

Broncos star utility Matt Gillett will be making his origin debut and he says despite his nerves he’s looking forward to the match.

Matt Gillett, Queensland Utility: “It’s pretty unreal the feeling that I have and when I got told about it, it’s definitely a dream from when I was younger. I never thought it would happen even to play NRL and now to be selected for Queensland is a massive thing and I can’t wait to get out there.”

Billy Slater is one of the stars of the much vaunted Queensland backline and has started the season in electrifying fashion. But Origin is a series all of its own.

Billy Slater, Queensland Fullback: “You’ve go to treat it on its merits and when you come into the side with the calibre of the players around, you just have to focus on your job and I’m looking forward to doing that.”

The Maroons flew to Melbourne today and will set up at camp at the home of reigning AFL Premiers the Geelong Cats. The Queenslanders won’t have the luxury of the raucous home crowd here at Suncorp with the game being played under the roof at Etihad Stadium.

But that won’t worry the Queensland team, who enjoy great support in the Victorian capital thanks to the large Melbourne Storm contingent in the squad.

Billy Slater, Queensland Fullback: “To have Cameron, Cooper and myself in the Queensland side certainly helps, at the same time we have to get out there and do our job, it’s about preparing well and looking at kicking off preparation when we get down there.”

Queensland will be hoping to secure their seventh straight series victory.

Brock Taylor, QUT News.