It was the perfect start for NSW and one that they had to have, as they produced a brilliant first-half display that proved to be enough, defeating QLD 14-6 at ANZ Stadium last night.
Billed as favourites heading into the clash, the tag was justified as they burst out of the blocks with a quick try to Jarryd Hayne, as the quick outside backs caught the QLD forwards napping on numerous occasions.
Despite the win, however, the NSW players know that the job is not complete, as they now face a tough trip up to Suncorp in what is sure to be a hostile crowd and atmosphere.
NSW captain Paul Gallen, who might find himself in strife for both a late, swinging arm on QLD forward Nate Myles as well as throwing punches after the fact, said NSW will celebrate the victory but start preparing for the June 26
“Tonight we are going to enjoy this moment in front of 80,000 people but we have to keep it in check,” said Gallen.
“We’re going to go up there and everyone is going to hate us and they’re going to want to rip our heads off.
“We’ve won but we’ve got a long way to go.”
NSW coach Laurie Daley who was coaching in first Origin game as coach, was full of praise for his players, saluting them for their efforts.
“Never question the passion these players show in these jerseys,” Daley said.
“My overwhelming feeling is that I want the players to enjoy it but if I am being really negative we did some things not so well.
“Gal hasn’t played for four or five weeks and his effort tonight was enormous, leading the state in the way he did.
“These guys have been pushed around and done it tough for a long period Payday Loan and they were good.”
With all the confidence now in NSW’s favour, QLD fullback Billy Slater believes QLD can bounce back in Game 2 even if NSW have all the momentum and admits they were outplayed in Game 1.
“It will be a big challenge but certainly not an impossible one,” said the Melbourne Storm custodian.
“It’s always tough to lose an Origin,” said Slater.
“They got the jump on us in the first half, came up with a few tries and put us on the back foot.
With an inside play resulting in NSW’s first try to fullback Jarryd Hayne, it is a move that Slater is familiar with, though he says no-one has copyright on the move.
“Nobody’s got any copyright on that move,” said Slater.
“He (Hayne) was a big part of why they went well. He brought the ball back strong, got their sets off to a good start and added a bit of spark when they got into the attacking zone.”
With the brawl between Gallen and Myles happening just before half-time, Slater said it is something that the QLD side will not forget easily.
“We won’t forget anything” – especially the feeling we’re experiencing after the loss …,” said Slater.
With doubt over Johnathan Thurston heading into the game also, Slater defended the decision to let the star five-eighth play.
“(We backed him) One hundred per cent. He’s the best half in the world and you always want him on your side,” he said.
“I don’t think he was on his own out there.”
Slater said Queensland didn’t do anything well.
“We didn’t get forward, we didn’t play straight and the guys off the ball didn’t do enough to support the ball carrier,” he said.
“All that snowballs into poor attack.”
3. Luke Lewis
2. Jarryd Hayne
1. Greg Bird