State of Origin 2024 Game 1: NSW Blues v Queensland Maroons – live | State of Origin

Key events

Ashley Klein is tonight’s referee, for the seventh State of Origin match in a row.

Ashley Klein is tonight’s referee. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP
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The most controversial selection in either squad is Spencer Leniu. The NSW forward has only just returned from an eight-game ban for racially abusing Queensland’s Ezra Mam. Expect fireworks when he enters the game off the bench towards the end of the first half.

The 23-year-old’s Origin debut will be just his fourth game since returning from an eight-match suspension for labelling Brisbane’s Ezra Mam “a monkey” in the US. Mam is part of Queensland’s extended squad, while Broncos teammates Patrick Carrigan, Reece Walsh and Selwyn Cobbo are all part of the Maroons’ starting 17.

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Ticking down to around half-an-hour to kick-off. Plenty of time to enjoy extended highlights of the first Origin fixture, 42 years ago.

NSW took out Origin I in 1982, but Queensland celebrated a series victory.
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New Blues coach Michael Maguire has had a few words with the host broadcaster. ‘Madge’ is not a natural media performer, but he did explain his Origin philosophy. “Prep is the big thing. Always been big on that. The preparation leading into the camps allows the boys to probably get out of town. We went up to Leura, up to Fairmont, had a camp away. That was excellent. We’re looking forward to really using that now with the way the boys have come together.”

NSW Blues coach Michael Maguire speaks to the media during a New South Wales Blues State of Origin Media Session. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
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Queensland XVII

Billy Slater was unable to call on Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga, Tom Flegler, and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, but the Queensland XVII still looks a high quality unit, full of big-game players. Reece Walsh will hog attention from fullback, but it’s up front where the Maroons have won the past two series with the likes of Pat Carrigan, Reuben Cotter, and Lindsay Collins excelling on the big stage. Harry Grant as an impact player off the bench might be the biggest luxury in modern rugby league history.

1. Reece Walsh 2. Xavier Coates 3. Valentine Holmes 4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 5. Murray Taulagi 6. Tom Dearden 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Reuben Cotter 9. Ben Hunt 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Jeremiah Nanai 13. Pat Carrigan

Interchange: 14. Harry Grant 15. Moeaki Fotuaika 16. J’maine Hopgood 17. Selwyn Cobbo

The greatest fullback in Queensland history provides some pointers to the latest No 1. Photograph: Darren England/AAP
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NSW XVII

It’s an unfamiliar Blues line-up with Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii, Zac Lomax and Cameron McInnes all making their Origin debuts in the run-on side. Haumole Olakau’atu and Spencer Leniu will debut off the bench. Nicho Hynes deserves a starting spot but it comes courtesy of an injury to Nathan Cleary. Alongside him Jarome Luai has a point to prove after losing his jersey last year, while James Tedesco is in a similar boat after being asked to relinquish the No 1 shirt just a week ago. Jake Trbojevic has a massive job on his hands as the 21st skipper of NSW.

1. James Tedesco 2. Brian To’o 3. Stephen Crichton 4. Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii 5. Zac Lomax 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Jake Trbojevic (c) 9. Reece Robson 10. Payne Haas 11. Liam Martin 12. Angus Crichton 13. Cameron McInnes

Interchange: 14. Isaah Yeo, 15. Haumole Olakau’atu, 16. Spencer Leniu, 17. Hudson Young

Nicho Hynes will be vital as the NSW playmaker. Photograph: Jason McCawley/Getty Images
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The major selection news when the squads were announced last week was the overhaul of the Blues by Michael Maguire. But the headline omission, James Tedesco, soon found his way back into the starting XIII after Dylan Edwards joined the long injury list.

Maguire made Tedesco the first Kangaroos captain in history to be dropped from an Origin side, ending the fullback’s run of 22 straight matches for the Blues.

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Jack Snape talks us through the big themes of this year’s series.

Rugby league’s State of Origin formula is well established: state against state, mate against mate. No pairing proves that slogan more than new New South Wales captain Jake Trbojevic and Queensland’s Daly Cherry-Evans. The pair are long-term teammates at Manly, but each will lead their state in Wednesday’s first men’s Origin clash at Sydney’s Accor Stadium.

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Nick Tedeschi sets the scene:

Origin is typically won by winning the middle and by having the dominant kicking game. So it is little surprise that the Maroons enter the 2024 series and Wednesday’s opener as warm favourites.

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Preamble

Jonathan Howcroft

Jonathan Howcroft

It’s time for the best sport of the year. Hands down. Don’t @ me. No arguments.

Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of State of Origin Game 1 between New South Wales and Queensland. Kick-off at Accor Stadium in Sydney is 8.05pm (AEST).

Why is the best sport of the year? Because it matters the most to the largest number of people. The format makes it a multi-month concern with the structure of a three act play. And despite all the fluffery buffery that surrounds it, the action is raw, and most often compelling and spectacular.

Despite the two squads being drawn from the same elite competition, there is always an underdog story, and with them a redemption narrative. This year that belongs to New South Wales, who have lost as favourites for the past two series. Defeat last year led to head coach Brad Fittler and all his backroom staff getting the boot, and the incoming Michael Maguire has stamped his mark on the Blues, selecting a squad packed full of debutants and individuals with points to prove.

Queensland, by contrast, are now a picture of stability despite being coached by a guy with only six matches on his first grade coaching CV. But what a half-dozen they have been for Billy Slater, featuring four wins. His Maroons have exhibited the never-say-die spirit that have made Queensland so hard to beat since the format’s introduction in 1982, but Slater has also empowered the flair of Reece Walsh and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, and given Cameron Munster licence to play on instinct.

But Munster is missing tonight, along with a host of star names as the centrepiece of the rugby league calendar risks being undermined by injury. Nathan Cleary, Tom Trbojevic, and Dylan Edwards are other modern greats who will not be suiting up tonight in what NRL bosses must hope is a blip and not the start of a trend.

There’s plenty more to come as we build up to kick-off, and if you’d like to get in touch while I’m on, please fire all communication to jonathan.howcroft.casual@theguardian.com.

Blues Coach Michael Maguire and Maroons head coach Billy Slater stand behind the State of Origin shield. Photograph: Con Chronis/AAP
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