There have been the usual barbs from past legends on the blue and maroons’ sides and the token booze incident – in this case NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce refusing to leave a Kings Cross club and stood down for game one. 

This opened the door for debutant Trent Hodkinson, who’s been handed the playmaking reigns alongside Josh Reynolds, his halves mate for NRL leaders the Bulldogs. 

Another blow for the Blues was the loss of Origin warrior and utility Greg Bird through suspension and Kangaroos prop Andrew Fifita through injury. 

A massive loss for Queensland is backrower Sam Thaiday, but this gives an opportunity to Matt Gillett in the first 13 and a debut on the bench for Aidan Guerra. 

However it’s spun though Mal Meninga’s Maroons are deadset favourites to dominate Laurie Daley’s side with a vast majority of Australia’s finest among them – the spine of Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Johnathon Thurston is as good as it gets, and just the tip of the iceberg. 

But today, the day before their first hit-out is the day they’re at level pegging. Can the Cockroaches stop the Canetoads from going nine series in a row?

If you have Premier Sports you can watch it at home, it not, try these joints. 

Albion: 2-3 New Bridge St, Blackfriars, EC4V 6AA 

Belushis and The Dugout: 161-165 Borough High Street, SE1 1HR

Alexandra: 14 Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AA

Likely line-ups


Fullback: Jarryd Hayne

Wing: Brett Morris;  Daniel Tupou

Centre: Josh Morris; Michael Jennings

Five-Eighth: Josh Reynolds

Halfback: Trent Hodkinson

Prop: Aaron Woods; James Tamou

Hooker: Robbie Farah

Second row: Ryan Hoffman; Beau Scott

Lock: Paul Gallen (c)

Interchange: Trent Merrin; Anthony Watmough; Luke Lewis; Tony Williams

Coach: Laurie Daley


Fullback: Billy Slater

Wing: Darius Boyd; Brent Tate

Centre: Greg Inglis; Justin Hodges

Five-Eighth: Johnathan Thurston

Halfback: Cooper Cronk

Prop: Matt Scott; Nate Myles

Hooker: Cameron Smith (c)

Second row: Chris McQueen;  Matt Gillett

Lock: Corey Parker 

Interchange: Daly Cherry-Evans; Ben Te’o; Aidan Guerra; Josh Papalii

Coach: Mal Meninga

Image via Getty