Preview: NSW v Queensland, Women's State of Origin
A slice of history and bragging rights are on the line when NSW and Queensland take the field at North Sydney Oval on Friday night for the first women's game under the State of Origin banner.
The Maroons were the frontrunners, with 17 consecutive wins in the Interstate Challenge, up until 2015 when the Blues held them at to a 4-4 draw.
And over the past two years, the tables have well and truly turned - the Blues are coming into this match with the upper hand after they were victorious in 2016 and 2017.
In both sides there's a mix of experience and fresh faces, with NSW naming five debutantes in their squad and Queensland with six.
Key match-up: With prop Ruan Sims ruled out due to a hand injury, Blues vice-captain Elianna Walton will become the spearhead for the Blues' pack up against Queensland's Jillaroos captain Stephanie Hancock. Both forwards have plenty of representative experience under their belt - this will be Hancock's 14th appearance for Queensland and Walton's 10th match for the Blues.
For the Blues to win: NSW have some of the best ball carriers in the game with the likes of Isabelle Kelly, Corban McGregor, Nakia Davis-Welsh and Taleena Simon. The halves will need to send the ball wide early and let the explosive speed of those outside backs do some damage.
Match: NSW Women v QLD Women
Round 1 -
Venue: North Sydney Oval
- Nine Network
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- LIVE PASS
For the Maroons to win: Stephanie Hancock has been one of the best props in the world for the last 10 years. She absolutely destroyed opponents at the World Cup last year and the Maroons will be counting on her to bring that form into Friday night's match. Along with teammate Heather Ballinger, the pair will look to dominate the Blues through their strength up front.
Blues Stat Attack: The Blues have not lost to Queensland since 2014. It's a stat their men's counterparts can only look upon with envy. Last year's 22-6 win was their biggest margin victory over the Maroons in interstate challenge history.
Maroons Stat Attack: Maroons halfback Ali Brigginshaw will be a key contributor to the Maroons getting some points on the board on Friday night. After a stellar performance at the World Cup last year with 10 try assists and nine line-breaks Brigginshaw will be looking to carry that form into the clash against the Blues.
And another thing: There will be 14 Jillaroos players from the 2017 World Cup-winning side taking the field on Friday – seven for each team so neither side has the advantage here. Both teams have had solid preparations and will line up 1-17.
NSW v Queensland, Friday 7.40pm, at North Sydney Oval
NSW: 1 Sam Bremner, 2 Taleena Simon, 3 Corban McGregor, 4 Isabelle Kelly, 5 Nakia Davis-Welsh, 6 Lavina O'Mealey, 7 Maddison Studdon (c), 8 Elianna Walton (vc), 9 Rebecca Riley, 10 Simaima Taufa, 11 Talesha Quinn, 12 Kezie Apps, 13 Vanessa Foliaki. Interchange: 14 Nita Maynard, 15 Rebecca Young, 16 Holli Wheeler, 17 Hannah Southwell
Queensland: 1 Chelsea Baker, 2 Karina Brown (c), 3 Amelia Kuk, 4 Meg Ward, 5 Rhiannon Revell-Blair, 6 Zahara Temara, 7 Ali Brigginshaw, 8 Rona Peters, 9 Brittany Breayley (vc), 10 Heather Ballinger, 11 Tazmin Gray, 12 Maitua Feterika, 13 Annette Brander. Interchange: 14 Mariah Storch, 15 Steph Hancock, 16 Kody House, 17 Tallisha Harden
Steve Turner's prediction: The Blues will be looking to make it three wins in a row against Queensland when these two sides meet on Friday night at North Sydney Oval. The Blues will be led by the talented Maddison Studdon. New South Wales have clawed their way back after a 17-year Queensland dominance and currently hold the title after last season's 22-6 victory in Wollongong. Although the blues have been hit with injury, they still have plenty of class and experience to make it three in a row against the Maroons. TIP: NSW by 6
Holden Women's State of Origin is ready to kick off a new era in elite women's sport. Witness the spirit of Origin manifest on the iconic North Sydney Oval on Friday, June 22. Tickets available now!