And in a coach Brad Fittler masterclass, the strike centres regularly combined in lethal passages of play, completely recreating how centres operate.
PLAYER RATINGS: Studs and duds from Origin I
Trbojevic snared a hat-trick in NSW’s raid of Townsville, repeating his three-try heroics of Game Two of the 2019 series, while Mitchell contributed a double.
It was a deft Trbojevic grubber from close range on the left edge in the 49th minute that set up Mitchell’s first try, and the duo again joined forces when the Manly superstar popped up in support of Mitchell to tear away 10 minutes later.
“This classical pair of centres,” said legendary Nine commentator Ray Warren as Mitchell crossed for his first try.
“Club fullbacks come centres, absolutely brilliant understanding.”
Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns renewed his glowing praise of Trbojevic after the 24-year-old stormed onto a James Tedesco flick pass with open pastures ahead to score in the 69th minute.
“Where he can get in the game, if he stays injury-free, is frightening,” Johns said.
“He has just been on another planet tonight.”
State of Origin Highlights: NSW v QLD – Game 1
Former NSW coach Phil Gould gave Trbojevic an enormous rap during Nine’s post-match coverage.
“I’ve got to say, with all the great players that they had, Tom Trbojevic was eye-wateringly good,” Gould said.
“The contribution from him was spectacular … It’s scary to think how far he will go in this game.
“The impact he’s had on Manly after Manly’s horror start to the season, his club form and then coming in and playing like that in the centres … It’s not his preferred position and to have such an impact the way he did – he’s an extraordinary footballer.”
Mitchell combined his double with two try assists and 177 metres, while hat-trick hero Trbojevic finished with one try assist and 204 metres.
“It was a really quick game and I kind of went roaming which suited me,” Trbojevic said after the game.
“I was lucky enough to come up on some of the end of those plays, just trying to support and do my best.”
Dynamite Panther Brian To’o bagged a first-half double on his Origin debut as the Blues raced to a 20-6 half-time buffer.
His second try, scored on the left wing in the 27th minute, came through an exceptional pass from second-rower Tariq Sims.
The Blues opted to run the footy on the final play and Sims fired a 15-metre cut-out ball while falling to ground in a tackle.
Sims ball sets up To’o for spectacular double
Queensland centre Kurt Capewell slipped through on the left edge 34 minutes into the match to lift the spirits of the despondent home crowd – and although the Blues took a sizeable lead into the break, the Maroons had enormous momentum on the back of a glut of possession and optimal field territory.
But NSW’s attacking prowess continued to blitz the Queenslanders in the second half and the game was all but sewed up when Mitchell crossed in the 49th minute.
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