Big League: NRL State of Origin

2019 - State of Origin III

The battle between New South Wales and Queensland continues this year with the Maroons vying for an unprecedented seventh-straight series win. To feel a part of the action make sure you have the official match program with team-lists, player profiles, exclusive Q&As and flashbacks with past Origin greats.

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in this issue

6 min

NEW SOUTH WALES GIVING IT THEIR ALL TO KEEP THE SERIES ALIVE THE stage is set for a thrilling Holden State of Origin Series decider after an inspired performance by the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues in Perth. I was so proud of the way coach Brad Fittler, captain Boyd Cordner and the team conducted themselves after their narrow loss in the series opener. Since Brad took over as coach he has never been afraid to back his own judgment and that belief was on display for Game Two. He made seven changes to the team which he believed would help us level the series and send it to Sydney for a decider. His faith was rewarded after the players turned in a performance that every NSW fan should be proud of. It was…

2 min
tom trbojevic

SOME of Brad Fittler’s selection choices going into Game Two were questioned – and those questions were put to rest very quickly – but there wasn’t a single Blues fan who had any issues with Manly fullback Tom Trbojevic coming back into the fold after recovering from a hamstring injury. Though he had only played four NRL games this year, his numbers were astounding, with four tries, five try assists and an average of 180 metres per game showing his class and justifying his selection. He may have been playing at centre – a relatively unfamiliar position for him, despite a Test appearance there for the Kangaroos last year – but as we’ve seen so many times with the younger Trbojevic, he’s a fast learner. His opening try of Game…

1 min
dane gagai

WE all know what this man can do on the Origin stage, given the opportunity. Gagai was shut down effectively in Game Two as Queensland had little ball in good field position, but that rarely happens two games in a row for the winger. He also had a horrid build-up to the Perth match with illness, having to be quarantined from the rest of the team – but a fit and rested Gagai is a different beast. The South Sydney winger has played 12 Origin games for 11 tries, regularly claiming man of the match awards, including the gong for best player on ground in Game One of the series. He is one try away from equalling Billy Slater (31 Origins) and Dale Shearer (26 Origins) on the all-time list.…

5 min
in it to win it

JAMES Maloney may come across as a fun-loving, jovial character and a bit of a pest off the field, but when it comes to playing on the biggest stage in rugby league, he’s as determined as they come. On the surface it may seem like all fun and games for ‘Jimmy’ but according to his Blues team-mate Wade Graham, the NSW No.6 puts up a bit of a façade. Although nothing seems to faze Maloney, Graham says no one competes harder than his fellow 2016 premiership-winner. “Because he’s so blasé and so relaxed, people forget that when it’s time to switch on, his competitive nature really comes out,” Graham tells Big League. “You can get lulled into a false sense of security because he’s a nice guy walking around with such a big smile…

6 min
back to back

ALL the talk at the start of the year was how Kalyn Ponga would handle the move from fullback to five-eighth. But in a cruel twist of irony that only State of Origin could deliver, the focus has shifted to playmaker Cameron Munster and how he will fare replacing the Maroons superstar in the No.1 jersey. Ponga was ruled out of the Origin decider with a calf injury, and Queensland announced that Munster would take his place at the back, with debutant Corey Norman picked at five-eighth. This will be Munster’s first game at fullback for the Maroons, but it’s a position he’s used to, having filled in for the injured Billy Slater at the Storm in 2015 and 2016. MUNSTER’S BALL Interestingly, his numbers in the custodian role are almost identical to the…

3 min
rapid recovery

THEY say you can take the boy out of Penrith, but you can’t take Penrith out of the boy – and that’s the case for both Wade Graham and Brad Fittler. The pair may have each moved on from the rugby league nursery at the foot of the Blue Mountains, but their western Sydney roots still bind them together. Even though Graham had played just two games since returning from a major ACL injury, Fittler thought it paramount to bring him into the Blues’ side. With the ability to play a number of positions, Graham is the ultimate utility and he proved it after he was called upon to play in the halves as cover for the injured Nathan Cleary during Game Two. “He’s from Penrith – he can play anywhere,” Fittler says. “When…