It’s that time of year again.
State of Origin One kicks off next Wednesday.
This afternoon, the Queensland and New South Wales coaches named their teams.
And a new Maroon will run out onto Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
Joshua Bristow reports.
After losing their eight-year reign, the Maroons have something to prove, even with the re-signing of coach Mal Meninga.
Mal Meninga, Maroons’ coach: “Another three years in charge, I’m looking forward to it.”
Meninga has put his faith in the team that historically lost last year’s series 1-2.
With Cameron Smith cleared to play, Broncos prop Josh McGuire is the only new face in the Queensland side.
He’ll start on the bench.
Josh McGuire, Maroons: “I think Mum started crying, so she’s very excited. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I started playing footy, 14 or something, it’s been something I wanted to do.”
South of the Tweed, New South Wales coach Laurie Daley has solved his selection dilemma.
He’s decided to go with last year’s hero Trent Hodkinson at halfback and recall exiled Rooster Mitchell Pierce to play at five-eighth.
Laurie Daley, NSW coach: “He’s an important member of not only the Roosters family, but the New South Wales family. He’s a guy I’ve got a lot of time for and I know he can add value to this team.”
Queensland also has its dramas in the halves.
Daly Cherry Evans is racing to be fit with an injured shoulder.
Cowboy Michael Morgan, who is in fine form, is on standby.
But there are concerns over the crowd for next week’s clash, with over 20,000 tickets still available for the 80,000 seat ANZ Stadium.
With the Melbourne and Brisbane games on track to sell out, the New South Wales Rugby League has nine days to fill the amphitheatre.
The Maroons now head to Sanctuary Cove and will fly to Sydney on Sunday afternoon.
Joshua Bristow, QUT News.