FORMER Canterbury Bulldogs star Peter Mortimer is tipping a State of Origin bluewash ... sort of.
“I’d love a New South Wales win [tonight], a win in game two and then a flogging in the game three,” Mortimer laughed.
“But I’m not sure if that is a tip, or just my hope.”
Wednesday night's first State of Origin fixture between NSW and Queensland, at Suncorp Stadium, marks the 100th clash between the Cockroaches and Cane Toads, and Mortimer yesterday reflected on the evolution of the concept.
Inaugurated in 1980, State of Origin has been the focal point of the rugby league calendar for the past 24 years.
Mortimer represented NSW in 1979, when players were selected for representative football based on where they were currently playing, rather than their place of origin, and was unlucky not to wear sky blue in the inaugural clash the following season.
“The game in general has changed a lot, but I don’t think State of Origin has that much,” he said.
“The physicality used to be higher, but I think that can be put down to television coverage. Players don’t get away with as much anymore because everything gets seen. It is still a brutal form of the game.”
Mortimer went on to say the difference in skill, strength and speed is notable, but on rugby league’s “biggest stage” the sport becomes a war of attrition as much as ability.
He also said punters can expect a battle of epic proportions at Qeensland’s fortress tonight, and lauded NSW coach Laurie Daley’s somewhat controversial selections as the Blues try to end the Maroons’ unprecedented eight season winning streak.
“Daley has changed the way NSW are thinking,” he said.
“They’ve eliminated bonding sessions, they’re quieter in the lead up and have developed a siege mentality. And forget the other games for now, NSW has to win tonight if they’re any hope of a series win.
“Daley has picked the best backline we’ve had in the last nine years, and NSW will kick to (winger) Daniel Tupou all night. (Halves pairing) Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds are capable, but isn’t that the biggest gamble Daley’s ever taken.
“He’s either going to be carried out of the stadium on the players’ shoulder if they win, or added to a long list of coaches who failed.”
State of Origin game one kicks off at 8pm.