State of Origin fever hits Port Douglas
A CAGEY NSW coach Laurie Daly is refusing to take on the favourites tag ahead of the State of Origin series opener against Queensland tonight.
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The Maroons have won 10 of the last 11 series but start a rank outsider in the absence of several of their biggest names.
Champion Jonathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Greg Ingless will all miss the clash at Suncorp Stadium through injury, while fullback Billy Slater was surprisingly overlooked.
It means a more seasoned Blues outfit has been heavily backed in the lead-up, although Daly was having none of it.
“It’d be naive to think that just because they’re missing a couple of their big-name players that they’re not going to be ready,” he said.
“I think Origin history, in particular Queensland’s history, on the back of people saying what you’ve just said (a Queensland team missing key players).
“They’ll be as well prepared as ever. They’ll be as tough as ever, our guys need to understand that because this is the time that they like. They like it when people are starting to doubt them.
“But I can guarantee this team won’t doubt them and I certainly won’t.”
When asked if Queensland thrive on being written off, Daly replied.
“Most definitely, they do.”
In what will be Queensland captain Cameron Smith’s 40th Origin appearance - the first player to reach the milestone - the Blues aren’t expecting any surprises tonight.
Daly said Suncorp was ‘a tough place to win’ and they’d need to show the right intent for 80 minutes of fast paced, high-intensity footy.
“I don’t worry about who’s favourite,” Daly said.
“One thing is they’ll try to find a reason to rally together and support one another and play well.
“As I say to my team, Origin shouldn’t be about surprises.”
WHERE TO WATCH TONIGHT IN PORT DOUGLAS
There’s no shortage of options to catch the mighty Maroons tonight in Port Douglas.
The Rattle N Hum will have the game live with sound (kick off is from 8pm) and Paddy’s Irish Bar is also in on the action.
The Central Hotel will showcase its new super screen in the beer garden, while the Courthouse Hotel is always a popular spot.
Where will you be watching? Let us know in the comments below.
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