Queensland legend Billy Slater has admitted that there is one major advantage NSW can benefit from with the Origin opener being moved to Townsville.
Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria which triggered a lockdown, Game 1 of the 2021 State of Origin series scheduled to take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground had to be relocated.
North Queensland won the rights to host at Townsville’s new state-of-the-art stadium, giving the Maroons two games in the series at their home state.
On paper that’s a big plus for the Queenslanders, however Slater highlighted how the move could be a blessing in disguise for NSW.
“The only good thing for NSW is it’s going to be a dry track,” Slater said on Nine’s Sports Sunday.
“25, 26 degrees, no rain, whereas Melbourne was going to be 11 degrees and raining.
“Looking at NSW’s team it’s certainly going to help them in terms of ball use and being able to get the ball out to Tom Trbojevic and James Tedesco and the like.”
The record is pretty closely in favour of NSW when Origin has been played in Melbourne, with the Blues winning five games to Queensland’s four.
So whether Slater’s prediction will eventuate for Townsville, where Origin has never been played before, is yet to be seen.
Slater’s bigger concern it that the recent crackdown on head high tackles doesn’t play a big role on Wednesday night.
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“Traditionally the referees have let a few thigs go in Origin and let the game flow, which has made that game [as good as it is],” Slater said on Sports Sunday.
“However if we see tackles like we’ve seen, it’ll end up with people in the sin bin. I don’t think they’re going to change overly.
“We’re getting better. It’s been three weeks since the crackdown happened and the players and referees are starting to realise what’s a send-off, what’s 10 minutes in the sin bin and what’s still a penalty, but hopefully it doesn’t decide the game.”
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