NSW Blues backrower Liam Martin. Pic: Grant Trouville.
Special Report by Matt Cleary
Since the first State of Origin game at Stadium Australia was won 12-8 by the NSW Blues in driving rain in front of a record 88,336 spectators in 1999, the ground has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Queensland Maroons.
In 29 games at the mighty site at the Sydney Olympic Park precinct, the Blues have won 19 times and Queensland nine times. There has been one draw – an 18-all thriller in 2002 best remembered for Gorden Tallis’s ‘rag-doll’ play on Brett Hodgson.
Yet, largely, the massive crowds have proved the difference for the home team – even when the visitors have arrived with some of the greatest rugby league teams of all time.
Consider: in the 12 series from 2006 to 2017 Queensland won 11 series.
Yet in the 15 games in Sydney, the results were near to the parity for which Origin has been renowned: NSW 7 Queensland 8.
The one series that NSW won in the period was scotched in Sydney when the Blues triumphed 6-4 in Game 2.
Nothing to crow about? Perhaps. But consider the players Queensland trotted out: Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Darren Lockyer, Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston, Israel Folau, Justin Hodges, Petero Civoniceva, Brent Tate, Matt Bowen and Cooper Cronk.
And often all at once.
But Father Time comes to us all. And since those champions shuffled off to gigs in media, home husbandry or coaching Queensland, new champions have emerged. And they wear blue. And NSW is 3-and-0 at their home ground since.
Indeed Queensland hasn’t won in Sydney since the coach of Queensland, Slater, was a player.
And it’s for these reasons and more that excitement is at fever pitch ahead of Origin Game 1 at Accor Stadium. And with 80,000 fans expected, Accor Stadium media has put together an All You Need To Know About State of Origin piece, with some key message being:
- With 80,000 fans expected, coupled with the usual mid-week peak hour, traffic is expected to be extremely heavy around Accor Stadium;
- Leave your car at home and take advantage of public transport which is included in your match-day ticket;
- Plan your trip – leave early, arrive early;
- From 4pm enjoy the atmosphere and fun of the Sydney Olympic Park precinct which will be alive with music, entertainment, restaurants, food trucks, bars and activities for kids;
- Accor Stadium gates open at 5pm
- NSW Police versus Queensland Police kicks off at 5:15pm.
- Pre-match entertainment begins at 7:30pm
- Big Match kick-off is at 8pm.
Everything you need to know is here: https://bit.ly/SOOKnow