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NRL: Five things we learned from State of Origin game one

Now the dust has settled on game one of State of Origin, what did we learn from Queensland’s surprise 16-10 victory over New South Wales in Sydney?

With home advantage on their side, NSW were the hot fancies heading into game one. Just over 80,000 fans packed into Sydney’s Accor Stadium but the Maroons scored three tries to the Blues two to get the job done.

It was a brutal, fierce and fast encounter with skill levels to match, and the rest of the series is a mouthwatering prospect. New South Wales are priced at 12/5 to win the series, Queensland 1/3.

New South Wales now have it all to do. They have to win game two in Perth a week on Sunday to set up a decider at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Despite winning the opener, there is still some pressure on the Maroons who will need to raise their game again as the Blues are sure to come out firing.

It does not get much better than State of Origin, but what else did we learn from game one?

There is nothing separating the two sides

In the lead up to game one it was widely suggested that this latest State of Origin series would be a closely fought battle.

And as predicted game one proved there is nothing between the two sides. That is one thing coaches, media, former players and fans were all agreed on after the game.

The exciting thing is the remaining two games should be the same so fans of rugby league watching all around the world should be in for a treat.

Cameron Munster is on another level

It took an amazing team effort from Queensland to get the job done in front of a hostile New South Wales home crowd but one man was head and shoulders above the rest.

Cameron Munster scooped the man-of-the match award after putting in one of the best Origin performances of all time.

The five-eighth’s numbers say it all. He made 198 metres, one line break, seven tackle breaks and 22 tackles.

Not only that, with New South Wales pushing hard at the death, Munster produced a crucial strip in defence with the Blues just metres away from the try-line.
It capped an amazing performance and without doubt Munster is at the top of his game. And he deserves plenty of credit for sorting out his life away from the pitch during the off-season. It has taken his game to another level.

Size doesn’t always matter!

As well as Munster forwards Pat Carrigan and Reuben Cotter caught the eye with their speed around the ruck proving that size does not always matter.

Leg speed counts for a lot and it may have given Blues coach Brad Fittler something to think about ahead of game two.

Cotter has been doing an outstanding job for the North Queensland Cowboys and carried that over to Origin, while Carrigan made a huge impact with and without the footy throughout the game.

Both were also on debut so we learned they have got what it takes to play Origin and will be part of the Queensland set up for years to come.

Billy Slater has galvanised the Maroons

The appointment of the next Maroons coach was always going to be huge and the QRL have got it spot on with Slater.

It could have been seen as something of a gamble. Slater has never coached before. But he has played the game at the very highest level with the Melbourne Storm and of course the Maroons and knows what he is on about.

Not only that he is very smart and has brought in some fellow Queensland legends to help him. Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurtson and Josh Hannay also joined his coaching staff and it has paid off.

Queensland have a talented, united, highly-motivated bunch and that is thanks to Slater and his coaching staff.

New South Wales do not need to panic

Despite the Blues now facing a huge uphill battle to turn the series around, there is no need to reach for the panic button. Indeed Fittler, although disappointed to lose, was cool as a cucumber after the game.

For all the talk of how good Queensland were, and they were, quite a lot went their way throughout the game and they only just hung on to take the win.

In fact Isaah Yeo was just metres away from grabbing a try at the death which would have left Nathan Cleary with a kick to level the scores.

With that in mind, barring a raft of injuries, Fittler will not be making sweeping changes for game two.

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